Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Isles of Eigg and Rum and the Distant Cuillin Mountains from Near Arisaig; Arisaig Passenger Waiting Room

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 91 x 153 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26956
Turner Bequest CCLXXV 1 a

Catalogue entry

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have identified the three sketches on this page as having been made by Turner as he arrived at Arisaig on his journey by steamboat to the Isle of Skye.1 Across the inside of the page (with the gutter at the top) is a sketch they identify as the northern profile of the Isle of Eigg with the Isle of Rum behind it to the right. The view is from the east and may have been made from Loch Ceall as Turner approached Arisaig. Along the fore-edge of the page with the sketchbook inverted is another sketch of distant hills identified as the Cuillin range on Skye to the north.
The largest sketch on the page shows a small building with a chimney on the coast, with hills to the left. Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan suggest that this may be the passengers’ waiting room at Arisaig, which is marked on an Admiralty chart of 1853.2
The inscription in brown ink at the left of this page, continued on folio 2 (D26957), reads ‘Engagede Catherine McInns to serve as Cooksmaid in the Servants Kitchen’. Finberg did not think that the handwriting is Turner’s,3 and nowhere else in this sketchbook, or the others used around this time (see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Poetical Works Tour Introduction) did the artist use ink. Henry Scott Trimmer wrote his endorsement of the sketchbook in brown ink on the inside front cover (D41021) but the handwriting does not match. It is therefore more likely that the inscription was written before Turner began using the sketchbook, perhaps by Robert Cadell who may have purchased this book along with the Sound of Mull no.1 sketchbook (D26936–D26948; D26950–D26954; D41019–D41020; Turner Bequest CCLXXIV) and the Edinburgh sketchbook (D26096–D26258 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXVIII) from a local bookseller (see Edinburgh sketchbook introduction). The second line of the inscription has been partially rubbed away, suggesting that Turner or the previous owner may have made an attempt to erase it, but given up when they realised it could not be entirely or neatly removed.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

1
David Wallace–Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 7].
2
Ibid.
3
Finberg 1909, II, p.880.

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