Depictions in this book of Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa (see folio 22; D26784) suggest that the present sketch is also of the cave or of a nearby part of the island. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan suggest in an unpublished article that the sketch shows the cave’s roof from the outside, although, in an appended checklist, they describe it as the foot of Fingal’s Cave.1 They probably mean that this is a view looking up from the foot of the cave to the roof. The jagged crack at the centre of the sketch must therefore be the opening to the cave, and the marks beneath could be interpreted as two figures standing at the entrance. The absence of vertical lines representing the basalt columns for which the cave is famous is conspicuous. This is because we are looking above the columns to a separate layer of basalt rock which does not have the same crystalline structure.
For a full list of Turner’s sketches of the Isle of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave, see folio 40 (D26817).
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folios 7, 18].