Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rouen from the Quayside; and Sketch relating to a Watteau-School Painting

1821

Not on display
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 123 x 118 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D24535
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19

Catalogue entry

There are two drawings on this page. The upper sketch is a view of ‘Rouen’, looking up-river towards Mont Ste-Catherine from the quayside, with a row of circles that have been interpreted as either a row of barrels on the waterfront or the Bridge of Boats that then crossed the river.1 For a list of Turner’s sketches of Rouen in this book, see folio 1 (Tate D24500; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1).
The drawing beneath has been identified by Ian Warrell as relating to paintings by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) and his school. In Turner on the Seine Warrell interpreted the drawing as a free interpretation of a painting in the Louvre by the artist Jean-Baptiste Pater (1695–1736), Watteau’s pupil: Une Fête Champêtre. Réjouissance de Soldats, 1728 (Musée Louvre).2 Warrell has subsequently suggested that the composition may alternatively relate to an unknown version of Watteau’s Actors at a Fair (the principal version is at Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin).3 Turner’s basic composition could related equally to either painting, though the windmill seems to have been taken from Une Fête Champêtre (with the addition of sails), while the rope or bunting strung along a circle of poles that surrounds it comes straight from Actors at a Fair. Whatever he may have seen in 1821, it is clear that the English artist has only partially copied another painting, inventing his own elements to create a more original composition. Turner’s interest in emulating the manner of Watteau is evident in his noting down of colours that match the typical palette of the French master.4
1
Ian Warrell, Turner catalogue files, Tate, CCLVIII 19.
2
Warrell 1999, p.22.
3
Solkin 2009, pp.50, 226 note 30.
4
For Turner’s admiration for Watteau in this period see Selby Whittingham, ‘What You Will; or some noted regarding the influence of Watteau on Turner and other British Artists’, Turner Studies, vol.5, no.1, Summer 1985, pp.2–24; and part two, vol.5, no.2, Winter 1985, pp.28–48; and Warrell 1999, pp.22–23.
Technical notes:
The page has been cut in half and reattached to the sketchbook with a new section at the gutter.

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

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