Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Royal Squadron; Leith from the Firth of Forth


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 69 a

Catalogue entry

Sketches on this page, all made with the sketchbook inverted, show views of Leith from the Firth of Forth and shipping. At the top of the page, two sketches show a similar view of Leith from the north-east, both with a distinctive church tower or lighthouse at the left. One of the sketches looks towards Edinburgh with the distinctive outlines of Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill. Smoke drifts from the top of the hill from the mighty bonfire that was lit on its summit to celebrate the arrival of the George IV to Edinburgh (see folio 68 verso; D17626).
Beneath these views a very rapid sketch shows a number of boats at sail (in fact only their sails are depicted) in the midst of which is a smaller vessel with a flag. This may be, as Gerald Finley suggests, Sir Walter Scott’s barge that was depicted in this style on folio 68 verso. The style of this sketch matches Finley’s description of ‘hurried memorandum of pencil flurries and fluid strokes, which alertly and sensitively capture the flow of movement’.1 (For more information about Sir Walter Scott’s barge see folio 49 verso; D17590).

Thomas Ardill
August 2008

Finley 1981, p.28.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like