View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
The Scottish publisher William Chambers called the Château Franchimont the ‘principal object demanding attention’ on his route from nearby Pepinster.1 Three years earlier, in 1839, Turner passed by Franchimont on an excursion from Liège to Spa. It is clear that the artist’s attention was equally arrested given that a total of five gouaches of the castle were produced from this one visit alone (see also Tate D 20266, D20269, D20289, D24732; Turner Bequest CCXXII G, J, CCXXIII D, CCLIX 167). 2
Franchimont Castle, Chambers writes, ‘occupies the summit of a steep conical mount... and at its base crouches an antiquated hamlet’, the town of Theux, pictured in the vale.3 The Church of Saints Hermes and Alexander is visible in the immediate foreground, to the left of centre. Built in the ‘eleventh to twelfth century’, Cecilia Powell writes, the church is ‘unusual’ in that it is the ‘only three-aisled basilica with flat ceilings of equal height to be found between the Loire and the Rhine’.4 In this drawing of the basilica Turner ‘has modified the arrangements of its parts’ to suit his composition, ‘but its essential character remains unaltered’.5
Veil-thin applications of lavender, rose and yellow gouache evoke the iridescent light of sunrise in this drawing which incorporates two wayfarers and their dog who have stopped to admire the radiant dawn at a clearing in the road.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXII–U’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXII–U’ at bottom centre; inscribed in pencil ‘27 b’ towards top right. There is also a mark in dark green at centre left.