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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Guards at the Provost's Banquet, Edinburgh 1822

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Guards at the Provost’s Banquet, Edinburgh 1822
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 440
Pencil on buff wove card, 74 x 112 mm
Blindstamped with the Turner Bequest stamp lower right
Stamped in black ‘CCCXLIV 440’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg associated this sketch with Turner’s watercolour of the Funeral of Sir Thomas Lawrence: A Sketch from Memory, exhibited 1830 (Tate D25467; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 344),1 a suggestion that was followed by Joseph Golding.2 It is perhaps more likely, however, that it was made as part of a group of about half a dozen sketches on small pieces of buff coloured card at the Provost’s Banquet given for King George IV on 24 August 1822 at Parliament House in Edinburgh.
Although the statue at the centre of the sketch does bear a slight resemblance to the statue of Queen Anne outside St Paul’s Cathedral, as seen in the Thomas Lawrence watercolour, there are no soldiers or guards in that painting. There are, however, figures of this type in other sketches associated with the banquet (Tate D34942 and D34946; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV d 442, 446) and in Turner’s oil painting of the occasion: George IV at the Provost’s Banquet in the Parliament House, Edinburgh, circa 1822 (Tate N02858).3 This group may be waiting to process into the Great Hall from the north end where Robert Mudie noted there ‘stood the colossal statue of Lord Melville [Henry Dundas], executed by [Frances Leggat] Chantry [sic].’4
This group of guards are depicted again on D34942, where the railing around Chantrey’s statue appears again.
For more information about Turner’s 1822 trip to Edinburgh see George IV’s Visit to Edinburgh 1822 Tour Introduction.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1150.
Golding 1975, p.76.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.153 no.248.
Robert Mudie, An Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland, Edinburgh 1822, p.228. The statue is still at Parliament House and resembles the figure that Turner has drawn in this sketch.
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘CCCXLIV <425> <427>’ bottom right
Inscribed in pencil by ?A.J. Finberg ‘440’ bottom right
Although the Turner Bequest group number of this work (CCCXLIV) has remained the same, the sheet number has changed twice. John Ruskin was the first to cross out his original red ink number (425) and replace it with a new one (427), before a subsequent cataloguer, probably A.J. Finberg, crossed that out and replaced it with a new number in pencil (440).

Thomas Ardill
February 2011

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Guards at the Provost’s Banquet, Edinburgh 1822 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2011, 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-guards-at-the-provosts-banquet-edinburgh-r1140403, accessed 26 May 2024.