Joseph Mallord William Turner

Brussels: The Diligence


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 219

Display caption

This lively scene is based on a rough pencil sketch made while Turner was waiting for the diligence that would take him to Louvain at the very start of his 1839 tour. He modified the architecture of each of the buildings shown, but kept some of their essential characteristics and the composition as a whole remained the same. In his sketch, the celebrated town hall of Brussels was given only very summary treatment, but his memory gave him sufficient information to show the many ornate tiers of this immensely tall Gothic building in a thoroughly convincing, if somewhat impressionistic, manner.

Gallery label, August 2004

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