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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Tantallon Castle 1818

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 9 Recto:
Tantallon Castle 1818
Turner Bequest CLXV 9
Pencil on white laid paper, 99 x 159 mm
Stamped in black ‘CLXV 9’ descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This ‘Ruin on Rocks’ as Finberg describes it, bears a close resemblance to William Daniell’s aquatint, Tantallon Castle, Haddingtonshire 1822 (Tate T02922). Both this drawing and Daniell’s print show the castle from the sea or nearby rocky outcrop to the north, although Turner’s view is from closer to the cliff edge, making the angle at which the castle is drawn steeper and more dramatic. In these sketches Turner makes little attempt to distinguish rock from masonry. In fact, in his watercolours of Dunbar, Tantallon and the fortifications of Bass Rock, all seem to be composed of the same stuff upon which they stand, as if the man-made fortifications are a natural extension of nature’s defences.

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Tantallon Castle 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-r1131879, accessed 25 July 2021.