Joseph Mallord William Turner

La Chaire de Gargantua, near Duclair


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

Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 138 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 106

Display caption

The small town of Duclair lies towards the top end of one of the Seine's lazy meanders, and has traditionally served as a ferry crossing. Beyond it to the east is a rocky outcrop said to resemble a giant's chair, which has been linked with a popular character from French fiction. Turner's drawing of Duclair is the most sublime in the series, and is characterised by the forceful diagonals of a flash of lightening and an opposing plume of smoke; effectively pitting man against nature. The thunderstorm evoked in Turner's drawing may reflect the bad weather he encountered during his 1829 tour, but it is also possible that the rumbling of cannon shot, fired by a local eccentric to greet passing steamers, could have suggested the dramatic effect.

Gallery label, September 2004