Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tobermory Harbour


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 47 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch is of the southern end of Tobermory Harbour. From the bridge over the Tobermory River, we look down on the bay (where there are several small boats) and across to the slipway at the end of the harbour, with the promontory at the southern end of the bay at the left. On this promontory is a building which David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have identified as Drumfin House.1 An inscription at the top of the page has been read as ‘D. Barns & Co., Dyer and Colours’ and ‘Niel Mc Par. Smithy’. According to Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan, a smithy stood on the pier in Turner’s day.2 The other buildings on the site have, since 1798, belonged to a whisky distillery.3 The other part of the inscription has been taken as a reference to a shop where Turner could have bought colours, although he did not make any watercolours during his tour of Scotland. Inscriptions on another sketch of Tobermory on folio 1 verso (D26749) may also refer to the proprietors of local businesses.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 11].
‘Tobermory Distillery’, Undiscovered Scotland, accessed 18 March 2010,

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