Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Folies-Siffait, with Oudon beyond, from the West


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

Watercolour, gouache and pen and watercolour on paper
Support: 143 x 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 138

Display caption

Close to the small town of Oudon Turner came across an apparently ruined ancient fortress. In fact, the towers and terraces he recorded had been created only very recently by a man called Maximilien Siffait, who was an entrepreneur involved in establishing a steamboat service on the river at Nantes. He began work on the riverside follies as a means of employing local labourers, many of whom had been left without work during a period of agricultural hardship. It is estimated he spent 200,000 francs on his follies as a means of keeping fifty families employed. Despite the obscurity of this location, one of Turner's colour sketches proved to be the only Loire scene he developed as an oil painting.

Gallery label, September 2004