Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tantallon Castle and North Berwick Law


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 × 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXV 6 a

Catalogue entry

These sketches of rocks on the East Lothian coast near North Berwick were made from near Scoughall, perhaps from a boat that Turner took to view and sketch the Bass Rock. The lower sketch is identifiable as Tantallon Castle with North Berwick Law behind. The conical-shaped hill (Law) is a geological feature called a volcanic plug, and was first sketched by Turner in the Dunbar sketchbook in 1801 (Tate D02701, D02702; Turner Bequest LIV 60a, 61). Turner sketched Tantallon Castle numerous times on this Scottish tour in preparation for an engraving design for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, Tantallon Castle, watercolour, 1821 (Manchester City Art Galleries).1 This view is from the east, showing the castle’s natural defences of cliffs and rocks. The viewpoint he finally selected was from the beach just south of the castle (Scotch Antiquities sketchbook, Tate D13598–D13599; Turner Bequest CLXVII 8a–8b). The sketch at the top of the page is more obscure. It may show a detail of the rocks below or to either side of Tantallon Castle, although it also bears some resemblance to the rocks upon which stands the ruins of Dunbar Castle.

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1067.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like