Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Viaduct in a Valley ?near Boulogne


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 326 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 8

Catalogue entry

Unique as a representation of an inland scene in this first half of the sketchbook as foliated, this composition bears closer comparison with pages in the contemporary Ideas of Folkestone sketchbook (especially Tate D35373; Turner Bequest CCCLVI 13). In both, warm washes of ochre, yellow, and red depict a valley of soft undulating hills bridged by a scarlet viaduct and a terminated by a distant tower. The judicious use of gouache to strengthen landscape contours, relatively few areas of reserved paper, and the application of translucent glazes onto dried washes suggest a composition painted at several sittings.
Almost at the centre of the page is a zigzag of grey paint representing rising smoke, perhaps indicative of the presence of an unseen section of railway or simply the chimney of a hidden building. The line between Paris and Boulogne was not opened until 1848, so this sketch may depict a landscape in the midst of modernisation.1
Georges Oustric, ‘Un siècle de croissance économique (1815–1914)’ in Alain Lottin (ed.), Histoire de Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer 1998, p.224.
Blank, except for small patches of blue watercolour from folio 8 recto (D35411; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 9).

John Chu
November 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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