Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boulogne from the North, with a Windmill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 326 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 18 v

Catalogue entry

This sketch captures a distant northerly view of Boulogne’s haute ville (literally, ‘high town’) whose high structures – the unfinished basilica and medieval bell tower – are balanced by a windmill in the middle distance.1 Delicate washes and darker calligraphic strokes in rose, lemon yellow, and ochre are combined to radiant, hazy effect. Towards the bottom left, Turner has inscribed ‘Pigs’ to record the presence of this picturesque detail.
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 present drawing. Because slight pencil marks by Turner have subsequently been noticed on the recto in this instance (D35423; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 18), the present work has been given the pseudo-Turner Bequest number ‘CCCLVIII 18v’.

John Chu
November 2013

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