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From the centre of Paris, Turner followed the River Seine south-west to the suburbs of Sèvres and St-Cloud and this short detour gave rise to a series of sketches, see folios 5, 6–9, 10 and 11–13 (D13999, D14001–D14006, D14008 and D14010–D14012). The focus of the expedition was the Château de St-Cloud, a historic royal palace whose former owners had included the Dukes of Orléans, Marie-Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. The château was set in an extensive area of parkland, redesigned during the seventeenth century by André Le Nôtre (1613–1700), and although, rather surprisingly, Turner does not seem to have made any records of the palace on this trip, he did make a number of drawings of features within the garden.
The subject of this study is the Grand Cascade of St-Cloud, an elaborate seventeenth-century fountain which slopes down towards the river at the eastern perimeter of the park.1 Designed by Antoine Le Pautre (1621–1679), it was built in 1664–5 and still survives today, even though the château itself was destroyed in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war. Turner’s viewpoint is from the semi-circular pool at the bottom of the fountain looking west up the slope. He has made an accurate but perfunctory record of the general appearance and design of the structure including its two distinct levels comprising the five separate streams of the Haute Cascade (upper) and the horseshoe shape of the Basse Cascade (lower). An alternate view depicting the allegorical statues crowning the top can be found on folio 6 (D14001).
Turner revisited St-Cloud on several occasions and made many further sketches of the château and its gardens, see for example a similar view of the Grand Cascade within the Paris and Environs sketchbook of 1832 (Tate D24444; Turner Bequest CCLXVII 141a).2 The fountain formed the subject of a watercolour of 1832–3 which was engraved and published within Scott’s Life of Napoleon Buonaparte (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).3
First identified in Guillaud, Alfrey, Wilton and others 1981, p.107.
For a detailed discussion see Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, pp.223–6.