Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats Struggling against the Current at Quillebeuf, Normandy


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 143 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 164

Catalogue entry

Turner worked ink, gouache, and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict boats struggling against the dangerous waters at Quillebeuf in Normandy where the current of the Seine meets the tidal zone of the English Channel. The tower rising above the cluster of buildings in the background belongs to the Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Port.1 Pencil sketches of Quillebeuf recur several times in the Guernsey and Seine and Paris sketchbooks and presumably contributed to the conception of this and two further colour studies: for a list see Tate D24576 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 11). For the sketchbook drawings, see the entries for Tate D23568 (Turner Bequest CCLII 26), D23569 (Turner Bequest CCLII 26a), D24033 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 77), and D24038 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 79a). All this activity culminated in the exhibition of a major oil piece on the subject, The Mouth of the Seine, Quille-Boeuf, (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon) 2 at the Royal Academy in 1833, and also in an engraving in the 1834 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France); see Tate impression T05598.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.36.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.184–5, no.353, pl.332.
Technical notes:
A margin of darker blue paper around the edge of the sketch indicates damage by prolonged exposure to light. The verso of the sheet is attached to its mount.

John Chu
August 2014

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