Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Sketches of the Isle of Staffa


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 116 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 9

Catalogue entry

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have suggested that the two sketches of rocks and cliffs on this page and folio 8 verso (D26760) may be of the Isle of Staffa.1 The clue is in the columnar rocks in the bottom sketch, which resemble the basalt columns that the island is famous for (see folio 40; D26817 for full references). The bottom sketch seems to show a crevice or opening in the rock which suggests the entrance to a cave, most likely Fingal’s Cave which was the main object of interest to Turner on this trip (see folio 29; D26797), though it could be the Clamshell Cave as in folio 30 (D26799). The top sketch suggests a view from near the Clamshell Cave, perhaps with the triangular rock Am Buachaille (the Herdsman's Rock).
At the top right of the page is the continuation of a sketch of Fort William from folio 8 verso.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, 'Turner on Mull and Staffa, 1831', [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 18].

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