J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Bass Rock 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 8 Verso:
Bass Rock 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 8a
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is one of numerous sketches of Bass Rock that Turner made in 1818 and 1822. It comes at the end of a sequence of sketches of the rock in the present sketchbook that Turner seems to have made from a boat (folios 2, 3 verso, 5–8 verso; D13324, D13326, D13329–D13335; CLXV 2, 3a, 5–8a). It is likely that this particular sketch was made as the boat was returning from the island (although it is unlikely that it landed as it is dangerous to do so, see folio 7 verso; D13334; CLXV 7a), as it depicts the entire edifice, including the details that have been sketched on folios 7 verso and 8 (D13335; CLXV 8), that could only have been seen close to. Thus, if it is compared to the drawing on folio 5 (D13324; CLXV 5) it can be seen that although the drawings are quite similar, folio 5 gives the general appearance of the rock as seen from the mainland (probably from Tantallon Castle), while this sketch concentrates on specific details seen close to. A similar sketch appears on folio 5 verso (D13325; CLXV 5a), though this view was probably made from slightly further to the east.

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Bass Rock 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 2007, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-bass-rock-r1131878, accessed 09 March 2021.