Melrose Abbey

Joseph Mallord William Turner

English, 1775–1851

Melrose Abbey


The ruins depicted here are those of Melrose Abbey, on the River Tweed in Eastern Scotland.  Turner's patron, Walter Fawkes, commissioned the artist to create six drawings to illustrate poetic exerpts by Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, and Thomas Moore.  This watercolor illustrates the poem "Lay of the Last Minstrel," written by Sir Walter Scott in 1805.  Turner, however, has misquoted the poem.  Later in his career, Turner made additional illustrations for poems by these writers, and in 1834 engravings of his illustrations accompanied an edition of Scott's Poetical Works (published by Cadell).  While an image of Melrose Abbey was included in this volume, it was executed from a drawing now in the National Gallery of Scotland

Medium Watercolor on cream wove paper
Dimensions Sheet: 7 3/4 x 5 5/16 in. (19.7 x 13.5 cm)
Object Number 2007.8.106
Acquisition Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007
Status Off View

Image Caption

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Melrose Abbey, 1822, Watercolor on cream wove paper. Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007. The Clark Art Institute, 2007.8.106.


Clarke, Jay, ed. Landscape, Innovation, and Nostalgia: The Manton Collection of British Art. Williamstown, MA: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2012.


The artist, commissioned by Walter Ramsden Hawksworth Fawkes; Major Lt. G. G. W. Horton-Fawkes, by descent (by 1967–1988, sale, Christie’s, London, 12 July 1988, no. 193); sale, Sotheby’s, London, 19 Nov. 1992, no. 152, sold to Arthur Ackermann & Peter Johnson, Ltd., as agent for Manton; Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, New York (1992–d. 2005); Manton Family Art Foundation (2005–2007, given to the Clark); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007.