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Turner worked gouache and watercolour onto this ink drawing to depict the mouth of the harbour at Le Havre in Normandy. While a barge and a rowing boat battle the choppy waters of the foreground, the sixteenth-century tower of François I is picked out against a dark sky at the centre of the composition. Sketches of this town’s harbour infrastructure and surroundings recur frequently in the Seine and Paris sketchbook and presumably contributed to the conception of this and a further four colour studies on blue paper: Tate D24648 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 83), D24652 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 87), D24653 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 88), D24746 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 181). For a list of the sketchbook drawings, see the entry for Tate D23975 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 48). For the finished watercolours of the town which Turner worked up with a view to engraved reproduction around this time, see Tate D24698 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 133) and Tate D24699 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 134). All this activity culminated a pair of engraved illustrations for the 1834 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France); see Tate impressions T05594 and T04699.
The centre of the sheet is inscribed in white chalk with the note ‘14’. The centre is also stamped in black with the Turner Bequest monogram and the Turner Bequest number ‘CCLIX 82’. The bottom left-hand corner is inscribed in pencil with the Tate number ‘D24647’.