Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tweed Suspension Bridge, Melrose


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 x 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 49 a

Catalogue entry

The bridge in this sketch is not, as David Wallace-Hadrill suggested,1 the Union Suspension Bridge over the River Tweed near Norham Castle, but the suspension bridge (or chain bridge) over the Tweed connecting Melrose to Gattonside. The structure is recognisable by its tall pylons from which the cables are suspended, which have quite a different appearance from the more squat and square pylons of the Union Bridge.
This view is probably from the Melrose (south) side of the bridge, and was made from the west where the river bends northwards. Above the structure are the hills of Gattonside, and the building at the right is probably the toll house. The bridge can also be seen in Turner’s earlier watercolour of Melrose, 1831 (National Gallery of Scotland),2 where it is depicted from the other side of the river in the distance at the far right of the picture, and in the original sketch for that painting, made in 1831: Tate D25954 (Turner Bequest CCLXVII 15).
The present sketch was made on 3 October 1834, when Turner also drew nearby Melrose Abbey (folio 53; D26198) and visited Abbotsford (folio 47; D26186), Rhymer’s Glen (folio 50 verso; D26193) and Chiefswood Cottage (folio 52; D26196); see Edinburgh sketchbook 1834 Introduction for the context of this visit.
There are pale brown stains at the top and at the right (especially the bottom-right) of the page.

Thomas Ardill
January 2011

David Wallace Hadrill, ‘CCLXVIII “Edinburgh” 1831–34’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.428 no.1080.

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