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The subject of this sketch is the town of Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin which lies on the River Guiers, approximately twenty miles west of Chambéry. The location forms part of the border between Isère and Savoy, and indeed the town is actually divided into two separate settlements, both sharing the same name but situated respectively on the south and north banks of the river. Since 1815 Savoy had been part of the Italian Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and consequently the nineteenth-century traveller crossing the border from France was obliged to present their luggage for inspection at custom houses in both places.1
The focus of this view is the historic Carmelite church (Église des Carmes) with its domed bell tower which stands on the Savoy side of the river on the left-hand side of the composition. Turner’s viewpoint is from the single-arched bridge (from which the town derives its name) looking south-east towards the distant Alps. Further drawings relating to Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin can be found on folios 56, 59 verso and 60 verso (D14078, D14085 and D14087). The town also features within the Return from Italy sketchbook (see Tate D16705; Turner Bequest CXCII 33).
Heinrich August O. Reichard, A Descriptive Road Book of France, London 1829, p.305.