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Turner worked gouache and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the vista across Caudebec-en-Caux, Normandy from the high ground to the east. On the right-hand side of the scene, hatched brush-strokes in a dark tone represent foreground buildings while, in the middle distance, the spire of the Church of Notre-Dame rises over the town rooftops.1 As the view continues on towards the Seine valley, sail-boats can be seen moored to the riverbank while short parallel stokes of white paint have been worked into the sky, presumably to indicate the moon shining through thin cloud cover.
Sketches of Caudebec and its church recur frequently in the Guernsey and Seine and Paris sketchbooks and presumably contributed to the conception of this and two further colour studies: see Tate D24760 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 195) and D24818 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 253). For a list of the sketchbook drawings, see the entries for Tate D23550 (Turner Bequest CCLII 17) and D24029 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 75). For the finished watercolour of Caudebec that Turner subsequently worked up with a view to engraved reproduction, see Tate D24670 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 105). All this activity culminated in an engraved illustration for the 1834 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France); see Tate impression T05601.
See Maurice Dragon, L’église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux, Luneray 1997.
A thin margin of darker blue paper around the edges of this sheet indicates damage from prolonged exposure to light. The verso is attached to the mount.