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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Tantallon Castle and North Berwick Law 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 6 Verso:
Tantallon Castle and North Berwick Law 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 6a
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
These sketches of rocks on the East Lothian coast near North Berwick were made from near Scoughall, perhaps from a boat that Turner took to view and sketch the Bass Rock. The lower sketch is identifiable as Tantallon Castle with North Berwick Law behind. The conical-shaped hill (Law) is a geological feature called a volcanic plug, and was first sketched by Turner in the Dunbar sketchbook in 1801 (Tate D02701, D02702; Turner Bequest LIV 60a, 61). Turner sketched Tantallon Castle numerous times on this Scottish tour in preparation for an engraving design for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, Tantallon Castle, watercolour, 1821 (Manchester City Art Galleries).1 This view is from the east, showing the castle’s natural defences of cliffs and rocks. The viewpoint he finally selected was from the beach just south of the castle (Scotch Antiquities sketchbook, Tate D13598–D13599; Turner Bequest CLXVII 8a–8b). The sketch at the top of the page is more obscure. It may show a detail of the rocks below or to either side of Tantallon Castle, although it also bears some resemblance to the rocks upon which stands the ruins of Dunbar Castle.

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1067.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Tantallon Castle and North Berwick Law 1818 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 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-tantallon-castle-and-north-berwick-law-r1131874, accessed 25 July 2021.