Not on display
This quick sketch depicts a street with a tower at the left, and what are probably the masts of boats to the right. The sun’s orb is shown low in the sky at the centre of the sketch, the effect of which casts the tower and what may be two figures at the right into silhouette. Gerald Wilkinson in 1975 labelled the sketch as Elgin Cathedral,1 an identification that David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have disagreed with.2 Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan have not managed to provide a firm identification, and Carolan’s suggestion that Turner’s inscription reads ‘Meldrum’,3 a reference to the town Oldmeldrum near Aberdeen, is unlikely as it seems to say ‘Blue cloud’.
A slim possibility is St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen. The cathedral, now a High Kirk, has two steeples, but if it is viewed from the south only one would be seen. This suggestion, however, does not satisfactorily account for the vertical lines to the right which in Turner’s sketches usually represent the masts of boats, as despite there being a river to the north, the River Don is not navigable in a large boat. The low position of the sun in the sky also suggests that the view is looking east or west, rather than north. The identification of the sketch therefore remains uncertain. The tower resembles another sketch on folio 138 verso (D27214).
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