Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bass Rock


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 8

Catalogue entry

Standing beneath cliffs to the south of the island we look towards the Bass Rock. While the Bass is drawn with just a simple outline (the distinctive shape is similarly sketched on the inside front cover of this sketchbook; D40915), more attention is paid to the shape and character of the craggy cliffs and to the building at the top. This may be Seacliff House rather than Tantallon Castle; a mid eighteenth-century building near the cliffs to the south-east of the castle which Turner drew twice more in this sketchbook (folios 6 verso–7 and 9 verso–10; D13595–D13596 and D13600–D13601; CLXVII 6a, 7, 8c, 9). At the edge of the cliffs may be a small figure, emphasising the height of the cliffs and the distance to the island.

Thomas Ardill
February 2008

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