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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Fochabers Bridge 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 145 Recto:
?Fochabers Bridge 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXXVII 145
Pencil on off-white wove paper, 163 x 104 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ‘QM | Killon’ centre
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘145’ top left inverted
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXVII 145’ top left inverted
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Two of the sketches on this page feature a bridge with roundels between its arches. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have identified this as the three-arched Fochabers Bridge, or Old Spey Bridge, over the River Spey at Fochabers near Elgin.1 This may also be depicted on folio 146 verso (D27225). Turner is likely to have crossed this bridge on his route from Elgin to Aberdeen, so the suggestion is convincing. Less convincing, perhaps, is their suggestion that the four sketches depict the nearby Gordon Castle. It is possible that Gordon Castle is depicted in the top and second from top sketches and on folio 144 verso (D27222), but impossible that it is the subject of the bottom two. Although Gordon Castle now only consists of a single tower, in 1831 it was a grand palace with long wings either side of the tower; these have since been demolished. The sketch at the centre of the page consists of a single tower, which is inscribed ‘QM’, perhaps standing for Queen Mary Stuart, and ‘Killen’, the significance of which has not been ascertained. The sketch at the bottom of the page, drawn with the book turned to the right, is a ruin of a castle or church.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Sketchbook CCLXXVII Inverness’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [unpaginated].

Thomas Ardill
May 2010

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘?Fochabers Bridge 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2010, 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-fochabers-bridge-r1135590, accessed 17 October 2021.