Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Scots Pines, with a Valley and Loch beyond and a Graveyard in the Foreground


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 296 × 434 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LVIII 56

Technique and condition

This picture was executed on a white, wove paper, prepared with a pale greyish buff wash. The sheet was made with a double-faced mould by William Balston and the Hollingworth Brothers at Turkey Mill, Boxley, Maidstone, Kent. It has no watermark.1
The composition was begun with light graphite pencil sketching of the mountain tops. Graphite pencil was utilised as the only ‘colourant’, in the form of shading applied rapidly with Turner’s right hand, to create the vegetation in the foreground, to give form to the nearer tree trunks and their leafy branches, and to give form and detail to the more distant hills. A single drawing material is very practical, in terms of carrying and using it outdoors.
This sketch has in the past been covered by a window mount, and exposed to light for a considerable period. This has faded the greyish buff overall wash, and has also darkened the paper to a pale brown.
The artist and diarist Joseph Farington noted in 1802 that Turner ‘showed me his sketches made in Scotland. Those made with black lead pencil on white paper tinted with Indian ink and Tobacco water and touched with liquid white of his own preparing’. This description can be applied here: the greyish buff wash could have been made with Indian ink combined with a brown material, since Indian ink by itself makes a very neutral grey wash of a cooler tone than that used here. Brown fading out of the mixture and yellowing paper would combine to give the background colour seen here, which would be warmer now than when newly painted. ‘Black lead pencil’ is in effect the graphite pencil familiar today, though Turner’s drawing material have been used in a holder that gripped a rod or fragment of material and permitted use right down to the end of the stump. This particular sketch has neither washes of tobacco water nor white gouache, unlike others in the group.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

Peter Bower, ‘Turner’s Papers: A Catalogue of the Papers Used by J.M.W. Turner in the Turner Bequest, Clore Gallery, Tate Gallery. Part 1: 1787–1802: TB I–TB LXX’, 1994, Tate catalogue files, unpaginated.

Catalogue entry

As noted by Finberg, a rough drawing of this subject is in the 1801 Tummel Bridge sketchbook (Tate D03278–D03279; Turner Bequest LVII 1a–2).1 Its position at the front of that book suggests that this loch is the first that Turner encountered, Lomond. The subject may be a view from near the southern end of Loch Lomond looking north.
The design is evidently alluded to in a composition sketch, one of four on a loose sheet (Tate D08215; Turner Bequest CXX B), inscribed ‘Light on the Left small’. It adjoins a study perhaps based on another ‘Scottish Pencil’ design, Tate D03415 (Turner Bequest LVIII 36).2
See Finberg 1909, I, p.159.
See Andrew Wilton, ‘Turner at Bonneville’, in John Wilmerding (ed.), Essays in Honor of Paul Mellon, Collector and Benefactor, Washington, DC 1986, pp.402–25.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop