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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Edinburgh Castle in the Distance 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 44 Recto:
Edinburgh Castle in the Distance 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 44
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Stamped in black ‘CLXV 44’ top right running vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Travelling around the environs of Edinburgh to sketch ruins for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, Turner was presented with views of Edinburgh Castle from various angles and within different landscape settings. From this distance the castle can be seen in its entirety; something that is not possible from the crowded streets of Edinburgh where the castle looms above on its rock, with some parts hidden from view, while others are distorted by the low viewpoint.
With a simple outline, Turner records in this sketch the geographical and architectural body of the castle and rock, demonstrating its overall size and shape, and how it sits in the landscape. The topographical setting – perhaps somewhere near Craiglockhart or Braid Hills (see folios 44 verso, 45 verso, 46; D13400, D13402, D13403; CLXV 44a, 45a, 46) – also gives him the opportunity to include trees at the left of the picture which frame the castle in a Claudian manner.

Thomas Ardill
November 2007

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Edinburgh Castle in the Distance 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 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-edinburgh-castle-in-the-distance-r1131941, accessed 18 May 2022.