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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Castle and Figure Studies 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
Castle and Figure Studies 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 1
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ?‘Harwick C’ lower centre
Inscribed in brown ink with executor’s endorsement, ‘No. 270 – 62 leaves of pencil sketches’ | and signed ‘H.S. Trimmer Esq’ | Charles Lock Eastlake’s signed initials ‘C.L.E’ and John Prescott Knight’s signed initials ‘JPK’ in pencil
Blind stamped with the Turner Bequest stamp centre right descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CLXV 1’ bottom left descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This first page of the Bass Rock and Edinburgh sketchbook contains sketches of three male heads and a female figure along with a rough sketch of a castle. The portraits have not been identified and may simply be fellow travellers, perhaps passengers on Turner’s coach to Edinburgh. Another possibility is that they are fellow artists involved in the Provincial Antiquities project, such as Revd John Thomson of Duddingston, John Alexander Schetky or Hugh William Williams, although no close likeness has been discerned.
On his previous trip to Scotland Turner kept a sketchbook of Scotch Figures (Tate D03440–D03631; complete sketchbook; Turner Bequest LIX), and he may have been planning to record local people again on this trip, although there are just a few figure studies in the 1818 Scottish sketchbooks (Edinburgh and Bass Rock, folios 53, 64; Tate D13413, D13435; Turner Bequest CLXV 51, 62; Edinburgh, folio 66 verso and 67; Tate D13578 and D13579; Turner Bequest CLXVI 66a and 67; and Scotch Antiquities folio 42 verso; Tate D13653; Turner Bequest CLXVII 61a).
The sketch of the castle is too rough to identify, although the inscription may provide the answer. Finberg read it as ‘Hardwick (?) Castle’,1 but there is no such thing, and no similar name is plausible. David Hill, however, has suggested that it could say ‘Berwick’,2 and ‘North Berwick C’ looks like a plausible transcription that could indicate Tantallon Castle which has roughly this shape from its seaward side.

Thomas Ardill
July 2009

Finberg 1909, I, p.478, CLXV 1.
David Hill in conversation with the author, October 2007.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Castle and Figure Studies 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2009, 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-castle-and-figure-studies-r1131864, accessed 25 July 2021.