Joseph Mallord William Turner

Huy from the South-East

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: 136 x 184 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20221
Turner Bequest CCXX N

Display caption

The five sketchbooks from this German tour that Turner filled with pencil drawings are evidence of extremely hard work: day after day spent tramping up and down hills in search of good viewpoints and interesting subjects. This watercolour, looking down on to Huy, shows Turner developing one or more of these sketches drawn from vantage points found in this way.

Bodycolour (or gouache, its French name, from the Italian aguazzo – meaning mud) functions a bit like oil paint. Here Turner mixes increasing amounts of white into the pigment to achieve the lighter tones, with pure white for the highest lights.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

This expansive prospect of Huy was accessed by climbing the plateau of La Satre which lies outside the town walls to the south-east. The drawing is closely based on a rough preparatory jotting in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook (Tate D28137; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 50 a), although in this gouache Turner ‘has enlivened the town walls at lower left’, Cecilia Powell writes, ‘by the addition of a few buildings included in a sketch from slightly further away, in the same general direction’ (see Tate D28143; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 53 a).1
The colouring is comprised of vivid orange, with yellow and pink tones offset by a brilliant azure sky. Turner has applied gouache in a softly smudged manner which lends the drawing the material character of a work in pastel. The eye is focused, however, by hairline pen and scarlet ink strokes used to delineate architectural features and the textures of the surrounding terrain. As Powell notes, the tone of pink found in this drawing is similar to that found in the ‘Kobern’ Moselle gouache (Tate D20271; Turner Bequest CCXXII L) and the expressive red pen has parallels ‘both elsewhere in the Meuse set and in those of the Mosel’ (such as Tate D24664; Turner Bequest CCLIX 99).2 ‘All these concurrents’, Powell writes, ‘indicate that Turner worked on the scenes in small groups after he had returned home, rather than individually at the places depicted’.3
1
Powell 1991, p.154 no.87.
2
Powell 1991, p.154 no.87.
3
Ibid.
Verso:
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXX N’ at bottom centre; inscribed in pencil ‘25a’ and ‘5a’ at centre towards right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

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