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.
Of all the destinations Turner sketched along the River Seine, the industrial and architecturally rich city of Rouen stands out as a place he returned to numerous times. He certainly visited the city in 1821, 1826, 1829 and 1832, and Ian Warrell has argued that the group of pen and ink sketches this sheet is part of were made during an additional visit sometime between 1827 and 1829, partly due to the presence of a newly constructed stone bridge (for more information, see the entry for Tate D24869; Turner Bequest CCLX 33).1
The background of this study is dominated by the spire of the cathedral. While the cathedral took on a more prominent role in a number of later gouache studies of c.1832 (see, for example, Tate D24819; Turner Bequest CCLIX 254), within the present ink and gouache study Turner has chosen to view the cathedral from further away, framing it as part of the backdrop of the busy city life implied by the foreground figures.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, London 1999, p.166.
Blank, save for inscriptions: inscribed in pencil ‘40a’ centre of sheet; stamped in black with the Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLX–3’ lower right; inscribed in pencil ‘cclx–3’ bottom right.