Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Treshnish Isles and Other Sketches


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 42 a

Catalogue entry

Turner used this page for various rapid sketches of islands and coastlines as he steamed towards the Isle of Staffa (see folio 43; D26823). Across the top of the page is a sketch of four small islands. These are the Treshnish Isles as seen from the north. At the centre is Lunga (see folio 40 (D26817), with Bac Mòr (or the Dutchman’s Cap, see folio 42; D26821) and Bac Beag to the right. To the left are Fladda and some of the other smaller Treshnish Islands.
Drawn in a rough box with the sketchbook inverted beneath the top sketch are two sketches; one of a ruined building and the other of the outline of distant hills. The latter is too slight to make identification possible, but the former may show the ruin of Cairnburgh Castle, which is in two parts on the islands of Cairn na Burgh More and Cairn na Burgh Beg, the most north-easterly of the Treshnish Isles. Turner’s inscription, which David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have taken to refer to the island of Coll,1 may refer to this castle.
At the centre left of the page is a sketch of a headland or part of an island. This bears a resemblance to a sketch on folio 42 (D26821) which may be part of the Isle of Staffa. The last two sketches on the page, both drawn with the page inverted, show rocks or hills and a panoramic sweep of hilly coastline inscribed ‘cal’, which may, as Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan suggest, be Caliach Point at the north-west corner of Mull.2

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folios 5, 19].

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