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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Coastline with Tantallon Castle 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 34 Recto:
Coastline with Tantallon Castle 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 34
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Stamped in black ‘CLXV 34’ bottom left descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The ruin and rocky headland depicted here in two faint and slightly smudged drawings could be one of two views. Finberg identified it as the ‘Ruins of Dunbar’,1 an identification that David Wallace Hadrill agreed with,2 and one that is plausible if compared to other drawings of the ruinous castle (e.g. folio 23 verso; D13346; CLXV 23a). However, another view sketched by Turner elsewhere in this book is perhaps more convincing. Sketches on folios 6 verso and 33 verso (D13332, D18880; CLXV 6a, 33a) depict Tantallon Castle above a rocky headland that is just to its north, and both look very similar to the view on this page. The ruin, though faint, is probably closer to the shape of Tantallon, especially in the upper sketch, and the absence of the distinctive ruinous tower shape in both sketches suggests that this is not Dunbar.

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

Finberg 1909, I, p.479, CLXV 34.
David Wallace-Hadrill, unpublished notes, [circa 1990–2], Tate catalogue files.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Coastline with Tantallon Castle 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-coastline-with-tantallon-castle-r1131923, accessed 25 November 2020.