Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boulogne and Harbour from the North


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 19

Catalogue entry

This view of Boulogne captures all the town’s major districts. The town’s haute ville (literally, ‘high town’) with its encircling walls, bell tower, and unfinished basilica sits above the harbour district and the sea beyond.1 Most of the sketch is washed over in varying intensities of ochre although accents of green, blue, and red also used to describe a belt of trees, the line of the sea, and the sails of a harbour-side windmill.
This drawing appears inverted in relation to the sketchbook’s foliation. The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘19’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLVIII 19’ at the bottom right (see Technical notes); blue and pink watercolour has transferred from folio 17 verso opposite (D35424; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 18v).
Frédéric Debussche, Architecture de XIXe siècle à Boulogne-sur-Mer, Arras 2004, pp.4–13; also, Pierre Boissé (ed.), Boulogne-sur-mer: le château et la haute-ville, Pas-de-Calais, Paris c.1988.
Technical notes:
Turner worked on this sketchbook from two directions, with each sequence of drawings inverted in relation to the other. The first sequence in the present foliation appears mainly on the recto of each leaf, and the second mainly on the verso. After the volume entered the national collection John Ruskin numbered the each folio on the bottom right of each recto in a single sequence, irrespective of the side of the page upon which the drawing appeared. As a consequence, on many of the sketches in the second half of the book (including this one), Ruskin’s red ink number and the subsequent stamped Turner Bequest number appear on the other side of the leaf, and inverted in relation to the direction of the drawing. Finberg added a further complication by deviating from his earlier convention of adding the suffix ‘a’ to the page number in such cases to signify a verso.1

John Chu
November 2013

Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1168.

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