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Turner worked gouache and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict boats tackling the dangerous waters at Quillebeuf in Normandy where the current of the Seine meets the tidal zone of the English Channel. The view here, as identified by Art historian Ian Warrell, depicts the view downstream towards the wide embouchure of the river.1 Pencil sketches of Quillebeuf and its surroundings recur several times in the Guernsey and Seine and Paris sketchbooks and presumably contributed to the conception of this and two further colour studies: for a list see Tate D24576 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 11). For these pencil studies, see the entries for Tate D23568 (Turner Bequest CCLII 26), D23569 (Turner Bequest CCLII 26a), D24033 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 77), and D24038 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 79a). All this activity culminated in the exhibition of a major oil piece on the subject, The Mouth of the Seine, Quille-Boeuf, (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon)2 at the Royal Academy in 1833, and also in an engraving in the 1834 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France); see Tate impression T05598.
The verso of the sheet bears a light pencil sketch of wooded hillsides.