Joseph Mallord William Turner

The West Front of Rouen Cathedral

1821

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 118 x 123 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D24541
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 22

Catalogue entry

This detailed architectural study of the west front of Rouen Cathedral was the basis of a watercolour and gouache design of Rouen Cathedral c.1832 (Tate D24674; Turner Bequest CCLIX 109) for Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Seine 1834 (Tate T06238). When he stood at the opening to the Rue du Petite-Salut opposite the west end of the cathedral to make this sketch, Turner was not able to encompass the height of the building into the landscape format of the sketch. He therefore continued the study by drawing the towers on folio 11 (Tate D24520; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 11).
His approach in this sketch has been described as ‘reminiscent of the elegant style of Turner’s adolescent architectural studies’.1 The composition, with its enclosed vista has also been likened to the contemporary style of Samuel Prout (1783–1852),2 and Ian Warrell has placed the sketch in the context of other contemporary topographical drawings and engravings of the cathedral.3
For a list of Turner’s sketches of Rouen in this book, see folio 1 (Tate D24500; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1).

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

1
Warrell and Perkins 1988, p.21 no.55.
2
Lyles 1992, p.60 under 29.
3
Warrell 1999, pp.181–85.

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