Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grassmarket, Edinburgh


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 62 a

Catalogue entry

Turner made sketches of Edinburgh’s Grassmarket in anticipation of painting The Castle from the Grassmarket for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, although A.W. Callcott was actually commissioned to make the illustration which was engraved by Henry Le Keux with figures engraved by George Cooke for the fourth number of the publication.
While a sketch in the Bass Rock and Edinburgh sketchbook shows the view above the tenements towards Edinburgh Castle (Tate D13410; Turner Bequest CLXV 49a), the present sketch concentrates on the buildings on the north side of the street. These are inscribed with various notes referring to the buildings’ uses or to shop signs including a red rectangular sign bearing the name ‘W Ross’ and a yellow oval with the words ‘Through [?]Post Bdw’. At the right are two doors with signs above saying ‘Out’ and ‘In’. These may be the entrance and exit to the ‘English School’ on the corner of the Grassmarket and West Bow that Turner drew in this sketchbook (folio 75; D13744; CLXVII 86).

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

Read full Catalogue entry

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