Joseph Mallord William Turner

The River Tweed


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 1

Catalogue entry

The principal sketch on this page is of a turn of the River Tweed with Dryburgh Abbey and is close to the composition of the watercolour Dryburgh Abbey circa 1832 (Tate N05241)1 that was engraved for Sir Tristrem, volume 5 of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works. The view is thus from the south of the abbey as in a number of other sketches. It has been observed that Turner’s final design, while closest to the sketch on folios 8 verso–9 (D25941–D25942; CCLXVII 8a–9), took elements from a number of sketches to create a composite composition (see folio 9 for more information). In the present drawing the river looks similar to the watercolour, but the abbey is not clearly depicted, and the Eildon Hills in the background at the left appear too large.
At the top of the page are two small boxed-off sketches, drawn with the sketchbook inverted. One of these consists of just a few ragged lines, presumably representing mountains. The other is more recognisable as a thumbnail composition study showing a towered building and a bridge with four arches. This bears a resemblance to the sketch of Haddington Church and Nungate Bridge on folio 22 (D25966; CCLXVII 22).

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.428 no.1078.

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