About this artwork

The party having a picnic in the foreground includes Sir Walter Scott, the publisher Robert Cadell, Scott's servant, and possibly Turner himself. They had stopped to admire this view looking towards Melrose over the River Tweed on their way to and from Smailholm Tower. Turner had returned to the same spot to make the sketches which form the basis for this watercolour. The valley is bathed in the golden light of early evening, complemented by the lilac tones of the distant hills. The ruins of Melrose Abbey are the only prominent structures of the pretty Borders town.

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Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner transformed the art of landscape painting in Britain. From detailed topographical studies to expansive, atmospheric vistas his works celebrate the diversity and emotive power of nature. He was born in Covent Garden, the son of a barber, and exhibited his earliest sketches in his father's shop before studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Turner became the youngest ever full member of the Royal Academy in 1802. His experimental use of watercolour and oils achieved stunning effects, attracting contemporary criticism and praise. Turner's admiration of past masters, above all Claude Lorraine, and the numerous sketches made on many tours in Britain and abroad, provided the basis for his 'sublime' land and seascapes.