Turner travelled over to the north-eastern district of Boulogne to sketch this view. In the middle distance, a gabled skyline surmounted by a windmill frames the composition to the left. Further off can be seen the town’s haute ville (literally, ‘high town’) featuring, from left to right, the fortified chateau, the unfinished basilica, and the stepped bell tower. 1 Spongy patches of greyish green around the base of the haute ville give the impression of foliage rather than the actual fortified ramparts.
This drawing is inverted in relation to the sketchbook’s foliation. The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘20’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLVIII 20’ at the bottom right (see Technical notes); there is slight transference of ochre watercolour from folio 18 verso opposite (D35425; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 19).
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.
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
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1168.