Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ambleteuse Fort from the South

1845

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 230 x 326 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35413
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 11

Catalogue entry

Finberg tentatively transcribed Turner’s inscription on this page as ‘Fort Abletry’ although the second word is more likely a scrawled abbreviation of Ambleteuse, the distinctive skyline of which as viewed from the south is clearly featured in this sketch.1 From left to right can be seen the town’s slightly offshore seventeenth-century fort, its sloping cliffs, and its built-up centre raised to a somewhat exaggerated elevation.2
At the watercolour stage of composition the whole emphasis of the sketch has come to focus on the presence of the fortification and its reflection on the horizon. The pervasive warm tones, perhaps suggesting of sunset, are carried through to the crimson-coloured fort whose silhouette as given definition by a rectangular surrounding area of reserved paper.
1
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1168.
2
Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, French Fortifications, 1715–1815: An Illustrated History, Jefferson NC 2010, p.188.
Verso:
Blank, except for patches for a small scattering of black dots and ochre brush-strokes continuing from folio 11 recto opposite (D35414; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 12).

John Chu
November 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

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