Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boulogne 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 15

Catalogue entry

Unlike the other views of Boulogne in this sketchbook, this watercolour sketch is achieved largely without the aid of an underlying pencil drawing. Nonetheless the skyline of the town’s medieval haute ville (literally, ‘high town’), formed of delicate ochre and rose brush-strokes, is clearly discernible towards the top left.1 The town’s hilly setting and the sea beyond are achieved in five or six thin washes of ochre, yellow and blue.
This drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘15’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLVIII 15’ at the bottom right (see Technical notes).
See 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.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like