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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Melrose Abbey 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 14 Recto:
Melrose Abbey 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 14
Pencil on off-white wove writing paper, 113 x 185 mm
Inscribed in blue ink by John Ruskin ‘14’ bottom left inverted, and ‘271’ top left inverted
Stamped in black ‘CCLXVII – 14’ top left inverted
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Robert Cadell, who accompanied Turner on his visit to Melrose Abbey on 8 August 1831, observed the artist closely and wrote in his diary that this sketch, taken from inside the abbey, is of ‘the East Window in an angular direction looking South East.’1 The drawing, which extends to folio 13 verso (D25951; CCLXVII 13a) and was made with the sketchbook inverted, shows a wide angle from north of the chancel to the window of the south transept, and therefore compresses the perspective somewhat. The sketch is highly detailed including fallen masonry in the foreground as well as the architecture and ruins. Further studies on folios 13 verso and 12 verso (D25949; CCLXVII 12a) of windows, niches, mouldings and vaulting provide further details.
Turner made a detailed drawing of the outside of the abbey on folio 12 (D25948; CCLXVII 12) and a smaller sketch on folio 11 (D25946; CCLXVII 11). For more information and references see folio 12.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Monday 8 August, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc. 5188, Box 1, folio 109; transcribed in Finley 1972, p.382, note 141.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Melrose Abbey 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 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-melrose-abbey-r1134322, accessed 24 August 2019.