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Cecilia Powell writes that ‘Before travelling up the Meuse in 1839, Turner made an excursion from Liège to Spa which took him past the ruined medieval castle of Franchimont’ which can be seen in the distance on the crest of a hill in this drawing.1 William Chambers described the castle as the ‘principal object demanding attention’ on his route from nearby Pepinsterre. This castle was ‘the ancient residence of the marquises of that name [Franchimont], whose rights ultimately merged in the prince-bishops of Liège’.2 The castle ‘occupies the summit of a steep conical mount... and at its base crouches an antiquated hamlet and church’. This is the town of Theux which Turner has pictured in the vale across the middle register.3 The Church of Saints Hermes and Alexander lies at the centre. Built in the ‘eleventh to twelfth century’, Powell writes that the building was ‘unusual’ in that it is the ‘only three-aisled basilica with flat ceilings of equal height to be found between the Loire and the Rhine’.4
This sketch and one on folio 28 recto of this book (Tate D28095; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 28) formed the basis of a gouache, pen and ink and watercolour study on blue paper (Tate D20280, D20289; Turner Bequest CCXXII U, D). Other drawings of Theux in this sketchbook can be found on the following folios: Tate D28096–D28098; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 28a–30.