This sheet is one of a series of sketches associated with a tour of the Seine with a proposed dating of 1827–9. The studies are characterised by the use of pen and ink on blue paper; for more information see the Introduction to this section.
The art historian Ian Warrell first identified this scene as a view of Gisors, a town with a complex of medieval defences dominated by the eleventh-century Château de Gisors. The town is situated on the Seine, around forty miles northwest of Paris. Turner sketched it with some frequency during his 1832 tour, as evidenced by studies in the Seine and Paris sketchbook (Tate D23954–D23966, D23971, D23983, D23986, D23987, D23987; Turner Bequest 37a–43a, CCLIV 46, 52, CCLIV 53a, CCLIV 54, CCLIV 74a). This sheet, however, was likely made rather earlier, between 1827 and 1829, when Turner made a further sketch of Gisors, which is also catalogued within this section (Tate D24910; Turner Bequest CCLX 74).
Warrell calls the drawing’s composition ‘Watteauesque’, categorising the scene as a ‘fête-champêtre’.1 Turner’s admiration for Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) is more obviously demonstrated by a painting he exhibited in 1831, which formed a tribute to the French master, Watteau Study by Fresnoy’s Rules (Tate N00514). Another possible ‘fête-champêtre’, this time completed in vibrant gouache on blue paper, has been linked to Turner’s visit to East Cowes Castle in 1827 (Tate D22722; Turner Bequest CCXLIV 60). Historically a number of East Cowes subjects were first believed to show Petworth, and it is worth noting here that the Petworth, East Cowes and present French series’ date from around the same time and are sometimes very comparable in technique: see, for example, one of the pen and ink on blue paper subjects relating to East Cowes Castle for comparison (Tate D20813; Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 10).
Warrell 1999, p.267.
This sheet has been laid down on heavy paper and it was not possible to examine the verso at the time of cataloguing.