Colour and Line, room guide, France 1820s and 1830s

Turner loved experimenting with different types of paper to see how they affected his handling of paint. He used a type of blue paper, rougher and more textured than he’d used before, when he made sketches of the French rivers, the Loire and the Seine.

He carried folded sheets in his pockets and sketched directly on the spot in pencil, which he later worked over with pen and ink. More unusually, he also used it for a series of finished watercolours, produced between 1826 and 1834. He combined transparent watercolour with gouache (an opaque pigment) to create effective white highlights.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Quayside and Tower of François I at Le Havre, Normandy’ c.1832
Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Quayside and Tower of François I at Le Havre, Normandy c.1832
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Folies-Siffait and Oudon, Loire Valley’ c.1826–8
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Folies-Siffait and Oudon, Loire Valley c.1826–8
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Fish Market, Calais’ c.1826–30
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Fish Market, Calais c.1826–30
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘?Béhuard, near Angers’ c.1826–8
Joseph Mallord William Turner
?Béhuard, near Angers c.1826–8
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Paris from the Barrière de Passy’ c.1833
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Paris from the Barrière de Passy c.1833
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Melun’ c.1833
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Melun c.1833
Tate