Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Beach ?near the Tour de Croy, Wimereux


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 237 × 337 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVII 2

Display caption

Turner's last visits to the Continent took place in 1845. These two studies were part of a sketchbook he used on his penultimate visit to France in May 1845, when he lingered on the coast north of Boulogne. Unusually for Turner, he dated a number of the sunset sketches he made on this trip, as if they held some special significance for him.

Gallery label, September 1995

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Catalogue entry

In this coastal view, a low sun has been created by ‘lifting out’ a small area of yellow paint above the horizon. The spectacular sky has been built up with multiple contrasting glazes, from primrose to black. With unusual exactness, Turner dated the sketch ‘12 May 1845’ on the bottom left corner of the page.
The dark triangular structure reflected on the water may depict the Tour de Croy. This was an offshore fort built on a rocky reef near Wimereux harbour during the Seven Years’ War.1 Turner sketched this fort on three other occasions during this tour, in both the present sketchbook (D35394; Turner Bequest CCCLVII 9) and the Boulogne sketchbook (Tate D35406, D35414; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 4, 12). As indicated by the lone fishing boat to the far left, small-scale fishing became the main industry on this coastline as its military-strategic importance declined during the post-Napoleonic peace with Great Britain. By 1840, the former naval garrison at Wimereux had decayed to ‘nothing but a sorry hamlet’.2
Pierre-André Wimet, ‘Un vestige boulonnais de la Guerre de Sept ans – La tour de Croy, à Wimereux’, Bulletin de la Commission Départementale des Monuments Historiques du Pas-de-Calais, vol.6, no.1, 1935, pp.418–22.
J. Brunet, New Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 3rd ed., Boulogne 1840, p.131.
Technical notes:
The watermark is that of the Ruse and Turner paper mill, which also features on D35386 (Turner Bequest CCCLVII 1).1
For this paper mill, see Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.87.
Blank, except for an ‘M’ or inverted ‘3’ inscribed in pencil at the centre. ‘CCCLVII’ and the Turner Bequest monogram are stamped in black towards the bottom centre.

John Chu
December 2013

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