This rough pencil sketch was produced while Turner was waiting at the Grand’Place, Brussels’s main square, for the diligence stagecoach which was to take him to the city of Louvain (Leuven) for the start of his 1839 tour.1 The sketch later formed the basis of a gouache, watercolour, and pen and ink drawing of the same view (Tate D24784; Turner Bequest CCLIX 219).
The profile of the tall spire on the right, probably belonging to the Town Hall or Maison du Roi, can be seen extending onto the folio opposite (Tate D28043; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 1 a). Turner has left the main body of the building blank where he intended to place the stagecoach with figures embarking and disembarking. In the centre is a colonnaded building constructed in the Flemish baroque style and crowned with an ornamental statue. This may be one of the many guild houses which still line the square to this day. At the foot of the façade on the left is a group of figures sketched summarily, congregating in order to mount the diligence.
For an earlier drawing of the Grand’Place and Town Hall at Brussels see folio 9 verso of the Waterloo and Rhine sketchbook of 1817 (Tate D12717; Turner Bequest 9a).
Powell 1991, p.165, no.106 reproduced.