Joseph Mallord William Turner

Huy from the South-East: Bird’s-Eye View

c.1839

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 139 x 191 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20226
Turner Bequest CCXX S

Catalogue entry

This gouache shows Huy from an elevated south-easterly perspective. It is broadly based on a rough pencil drawing in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28057; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 8 a). The viewpoint, as Cecilia Powell notes, is much higher than Tate D20221; Turner Bequest CCXX N, so much so that the citadel of Huy now appears below the horizon line.1
Owing to this view’s bird’s-eye and wide-angle perspective, the citadel’s multipart network of casemates, chambers, towers, ramparts and galleries appears all the more sprawling and impenetrable. As a ‘great object of contention’ and strategic importance, the contemporary travel writer Bartholomew Stritch explains that the citadel was besieged ‘numberless times during the civil wars’ until it was restored and enlarged in 1818 during the Dutch occupation.2 A ‘great portion’ of it was ‘hewn out of... solid rock’, continues Stritch, and its ‘towering walls of massive masonry’ were ‘superadded to the precipices upon which it stands to render it impregnable’.3
Situated at the foot of the citadel’s ridge is the Gothic Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, highlighted with a smudge of white gouache. Huy’s other churches and buildings are summarily penned in with black ink, while brown ink is used to sketch the shrubbery and rocky outcrops of the surrounding hillside. The colouring is rather muted now owing to its overexposure to sunlight. To this cataloguer’s eye, the picture is comprised of predominantly pale grey, green, yellow and orange tones applied in thin and translucent washes.
For other of Turner’s 1839 gouaches of Huy see Tate D20222, D20268, D20288; Turner Bequest CCXX O, CCXXII X, CCXXIII C.
1
Powell 1991, p.154 no.88.
2
Bartholomew Stritch, The Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine; or, A six weeks' tour through the finest river scenery in Europe, by B.S., London 1845, p.25; and ‘Fort’, Huy, accessed June 2013, http://www.huy.be/espace-loisirs/tourisme-evenements/fort-et-memorial
3
Stritch 1845, p.25.
Verso:
There are rough chalk markings running across the centre of the page and some markings in dark grey watercolour at top right and top centre; ‘8a’ is inscribed at the top and towards left. ‘CCXX–S’ is stamped in black at bottom right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like