Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Barrière des Bonhommes at Passy, Paris

1819

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14013
Turner Bequest CLXXIII 14

Catalogue entry

Turner returned to Paris from St-Cloud at the same point at which he had departed, the Barrière des Bonshommes at Passy, which was the entrance to the city on the north bank of the Seine. He had already sketched the structure from the east, see folio 4 (D13997), and this study depicts it from the west.1 The barrière (sometimes known as the Barrière de Passy) was one of a number of gates erected at the end of the eighteenth century as part of the Mur des Fermiers généraux (Wall of the Farmers-General), a city wall built to ensure toll payments on goods entering Paris. They were characterised by neo-classical pavilions designed by Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736–1806), and the structure at Passy was additionally flanked by large statues standing on square pillars symbolising Brittany and Normandy.2 The gate was demolished during the mid-nineteenth century.3 Turner’s drawing clearly shows the pavilion on the left-hand side with one of the statues on the opposite side of the road beside it. Visible along the top of the hill in the distance are the windmills denoting the Montmartre district of Paris. For a more detailed description of Turner’s Parisian sketches see folio 2 (D13993).
A comparable sketch from a similar viewpoint dates from a late trip to Paris in 1832, see the Paris and Environs sketchbook, 1832 (Tate D24473; Turner Bequest CCLVII 156), and Turner eventually developed the subject as one of his watercolour illustrations for Turner’s Annual Tour, 1835: Wanderings by the Seine (see Tate D24682; Turner Bequest CCLIX 117).4

Nicola Moorby
March 2013

1
First identified in Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.120 under no.405.
2
For a contemporary view showing the position of the two statues see a watercolour by J.L.G.B. Palaiseau, Barrière de Passy, 1819 (Bibliothèque nationale de France), reproduced on line at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b77436636.item.f1.langFR .
3
For a photograph of the barrière prior to demolition see Allan Braham, The Architecture of the French Enlightenment, London 1989, p.194, fig.255.
4
See Warrell 1999, pp.230–1.

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