Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boulogne from the South


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 23

Catalogue entry

Turner travelled to the southern side of Boulogne to record this view. Despite the perfunctory nature of the pencil drawing, some of town’s principal landmarks are clearly discernible. From left can be seen the harbour edged by port buildings rising to the haute ville (literally, ‘high town’), with its medieval bell tower and incomplete basilica.1 Greyish blue and green strokes of watercolour invade the scene from the right which is otherwise bathed in light ochre and delicate rose washes, although the latter may be continuations of the cool-toned brush-strokes that saturate the inside back cover opposite (D35435; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 24).
The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘23’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLVIII 23’ at the bottom right (see technical notes); there are slight watercolour patches transferred or carried over from folio 21 verso opposite (D35431; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 22).
Frédéric Debussche, Architecture de XIXe siècle à Boulogne-sur-Mer, Arras 2004; also, Pierre Boissé (ed.), Boulogne-sur-mer: le château et la haute-ville, Pas-de-Calais, Paris c.1988.
Technical notes:
As discussed in the Introduction, Turner worked on this sketchbook from two directions. The first sequence of sketches 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. 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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