Joseph Mallord William Turner

Stirling Old Bridge and Castle; and Greenock from the Clyde


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 201 x 125 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 15

Catalogue entry

The larger sketch on this page is of Stirling and was made from the north-east across the River Forth. The bridge in the foreground is Stirling’s Old Bridge, above which to the right is Stirling Castle with the tower of Holy Rude Parish Church. Because this sketch is larger than the sketch of Greenock beneath it, it is likely to have been made first, implying that he visited Stirling before Greenock in 1831. This is an important piece of evidence in dating the sketches of Stirling in this book; see folio 13 (D24640) and the introduction to this sketchbook for further information. There is a similar view on folio 11 (D26456).
At the fore-edge of this page, drawn with the sketchbook inverted from the drawing of Stirling, is a view of Greenock Quay near Glasgow from the River Clyde to the east. The quay is identifiable by the grand Custom House with its classical portico designed by William Burn in 1818, in front of which are moored several boats. About a mile along the shore to the north-west sat Greenock’s Old West Kirk, which Turner drew at the right of his sketch. The church has since been dismantled and rebuilt on a nearby site.1
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have identified this as the first sketch that Turner made during his journey from Glasgow to Islay.2 The authors have traced Turner’s route by sketches of various locations that match a steamboat tour advertised in the Glasgow Courier. Turner took the first steamboat, the Maid of Islay No.1, from Broomielaw, Glasgow on a Tuesday or Thursday morning (perhaps 23 or 25 August 1831).3 Greenock was his first stop, and having arrived at the quay the artist turned around to face the east and made a sketch of the view of the Clyde (CCLXX 17; D26468). It then steamed on to Gourock, Dunoon (folio 68 verso; D26571), Rothesay (folio 37; D26508) and East Tarbert (folio 88 verso; D26610). At East Tarbert Turner alighted and crossed the Kintyre peninsula to board the Maid of Islay No.2 at 4pm at West Tarbert; this boat took him to Port Askaig on Islay.4

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

‘History’, Old West Kirk, Greenock Website, accessed 24 November 2009,
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner Round the Clyde and in Islay – 1831’, 1991, Tate catalogue files, folio 7.
Turner had left Glasgow for Stirling and the west of Scotland on 16 August and was in Oban on 2 September, making these dates likely (see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Poetical Works 1831 Tour Introduction).
Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1991, folios 7–8.

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