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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Canopy, with the King's Arms, and a Candelabra at the Provost's Banquet, Edinburgh 1822

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Canopy, with the King’s Arms, and a Candelabra at the Provost’s Banquet, Edinburgh 1822
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 441
Pencil on buff wove card, 74 x 112 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ‘Table | 3 lights | 4 pages’ top left running vertically, and ‘Kings | arms’ right descending vertically
Blindstamped with the Turner Bequest stamp bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCCXLIV 441’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The sketches on this small piece of card were made at the Provost’s Banquet held for King George IV on 24 August 1822 at Parliament House in Edinburgh.1 Turner was at the banquet and brought with him a small handful of cards so that he could make discreet sketches of the event. Tate D39945 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 445) depicts George IV at the head table.
Finberg’s title, ‘A canopy with the king’s arms’, conflates the sketch at the centre with Turner’s note at the right. Rather than the King’s arms, the canopy is emblazoned with George IV’s monogram: ‘GR’. The ‘king’s arms’ refers to the coat of arms that should appear between the curtains that Turner sketched at the right with the card turned to the left. As the arms were familiar, yet difficult to sketch, Turner neglected to draw them, deciding that a note would suffice. The canopy, crowned by the arms of George IV and surrounded by the curtain, can be seen more clearly in an engraving by W.H. Lizars, The Banquet in Parliament House, 1822 (Edinburgh City Libraries),2 which confirms the identification of this sketch. It is interesting to note that Turner also paid particular attention to the Kings’ pew and canopy at St Giles’s Cathedral where a special service was held the next day; there are studies of the service in the King’s Visit to Edinburgh sketchbook (Tate D17559; Turner Bequest CC 33a).
A contemporary account of the banquet by Robert Mudie also described the appearance of the King’s table:
At the south end, which has a fine large Gothic window, a curtain of crimson cloth, with yellow fringing, served as a drapery to the royal arms, which surmounted the chair and canopy of state, and covered the whole of the window.3
At the left, drawn with the card turned to the right, is a sketch of a candelabrum. The same account of the banquet describes
a profusion of lights upon the tables, beaming from candlesticks variously formed, of the most beautifully chased workmanship. Above the middle of the Hall, upon the table, there was one candelabrum of exquisite workmanship, which alone cost L.2000.4
Turner’s note at the top left of the page reads: ‘Table | 3 lights | 4 pages’. This must be a note about the King’s table. Mudie noted that:
The room was lighted with three large and magnificent lustres, running along, with three smaller lustres on each side, all depending from the roof. Four beautifully gilded lustres were suspended behind the King’s table, and one at each corner of the north end of the room.5
He also noted that ‘Behind His Majesty, and close to the wall, were stationed four of his pages, and four yeomen of the guard, with their halberts.’6 Turner sketched these pages and yeomen on a separate card (Tate D39946; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 446) and made a study of a halberd on another (Tate D39943; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 443).
Turner referred to some of these sketches when he made his oil painting of the banquet which remained unfinished: George IV at the Provost’s Banquet in the Parliament House, Edinburgh, circa 1822 (Tate N02858).7 For more information about Turner’s 1822 trip to Edinburgh to witness the Royal Visit see George IV’s Visit to Edinburgh 1822 Tour Introduction.
Finley 1999, p.225 note 35.
Reproduced in Gerald Finley, Turner and George the Fourth in Edinburgh 1822, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1981, p.12 pl.5.
Robert Mudie, An Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland, Edinburgh 1822, p.228.
Ibid., p.229.
Ibid. p.232.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.153 no.248.
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘CCCXLIV <426> <428> bottom right
Inscribed in pencil by ?A.J. Finberg ‘442’ 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 (426) and replace it with a new one (428), before a subsequent cataloguer, probably A.J. Finberg, crossed that out and replaced it with a new number in pencil (442).

Thomas Ardill
February 2011

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘The Canopy, with the King’s Arms, and a Candelabra 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-the-canopy-with-the-kings-arms-and-a-candelabra-at-the-r1140404, accessed 23 May 2024.