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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 7 Verso:
St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh 1818
Turner Bequest CLXVI 7a
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 90 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ‘Wall around the old | open parapet Tower and Church | vase a the corner of the [?]old’
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Drawn with the book turned to the right are two churches on the south side of Princes Street in Edinburgh. Most prominent is the Church of St John the Evangelist which was consecrated in March 1818, just seven months before Turner drew it. As he notes, there is indeed a parapet around the building which he has drawn in detail beneath the church, along with architectural details above to the left. The spire to the right of St John’s belongs to St Cuthbert’s Presbyterian Church. Behind the churches can be seen the outline of the New Barracks of Edinburgh Castle sitting atop Castle Rock. The scale of the building, and a sense of Edinburgh street life is offered by the tiny figures that Turner has included on Princes Street.
Turner’s inscription refers to the architecture of St John’s, including the walled burial ground, the parapet above the aisle, and a feature at the corner of what Turner refers to as either ‘old’ or perhaps, if we consider Finberg’s reading, the ‘Col[onna]d[e]’.1

Thomas Ardill
December 2007

Finberg 1909, I, p.481, CLXVI 7a.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 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-st-john-the-evangelist-edinburgh-r1132007, accessed 22 August 2019.