Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Mary’s Loch; and Altrive Farm (Eldinhope), Selkirkshire


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 x 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 26 a

Catalogue entry

Across the top half of this page is one of a series of similar views of St Mary’s Loch in Selkirkshire. Like other sketches on folios 24–28 (D26140–D26148), this view was made near the settlement of Cappercleuch, and shows the outflow of the Megget Water at the centre of the sketch, with the hills to the south of the loch beyond.
The sketch beneath may provide a more significant piece of evidence about Turner’s reasons for travelling to St Mary’s Loch. Besides the loch’s relevance to the work of Sir Walter Scott (see folio 24; D26140), whose works Turner was engaged in illustrating, the area also has particular relevance for another poet, James Hogg, known as the Ettrick Shepherd. Hogg had grown up nearby in Ettrick and become friends with Scott, contributing towards his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border collection. In 1815 he moved into Altrive Farm, now called Eldinhope Cottage, which sits on the southern bank of the Yarrow Water between Dryhope and Mountbenger, dividing his time between here and Edinburgh. This may be the house that is depicted in this sketch. It is viewed from the road to the north with the Yarrow Water to the right and Meg Hill behind. Beneath the sketch is an inscription that starts with the word ‘Hogg’, though the other two words have not been satisfactorily deciphered. It is possible that an inscription on the opposite page may refer to Tibbie Sheils Inn, an inn on the southern side of the loch that Scott and Hogg apparently frequented.

Thomas Ardill
January 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

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