Joseph Mallord William Turner

Les Contamines, Dawn: Looking towards St Gervais and Mont Blanc

1802

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite, chalk, watercolour and gouache on paper
Dimensions
Support: 320 x 475 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04616
Turner Bequest LXXV 24

Catalogue entry

This subject was first identified by John Ruskin, doubtless from the inscription ‘Contamines’ in Turner’s hand on the leaf originally adjoining it in the sketchbook (D04617; Turner Bequest LXXV 25). Turner passed through the village of Les Contamines, in the Val Montjoie, after climbing the Col de Voza and before negotiating the Col du Bonhomme, on his way from Chamonix to Courmayeur. He would have stayed overnight and the dawn light so vividly shown here, breaking over the ridge of Mont Blanc on the right, suggests an early rise before the long day’s trek over the Col du Bonhomme to Courmayeur. One of the groups of three figures sketched here might be Turner himself, his travelling companion Newbey Lowson and their guide.
In his catalogue note for the National Gallery, John Ruskin cited this drawing as evidence of the ‘gloomy cast of thought’ in the subjects from this sketchbook.1
1
Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.228.
Verso:
Blank
Inscribed by a later hand in pencil ‘1’

David Blayney Brown
November 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

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