Joseph Mallord William Turner

‘Carte Itinéraire de la Bretagne’: with Inscriptions by Turner and Sketches of Saint Mal, Dinan and Breton Peasants


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Engraving and graphite on paper
Support: 515 × 690 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 426

Display caption

Although Turner appears to have made few preparations for his journey through France before leaving home, he must have acquired this map during the first part of his tour prior to his arrival in Brittany. He would have used it, rather than a guidebook, to identify the principal places (and the roads connecting them) in this most westerly province, which at that date had not been explored by other British artists. When his sketchbooks were not easily to hand Turner used both the front and back of the map to make outline sketches of local costume and some of the places he visited.

Gallery label, September 1997

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Catalogue entry

Turner probably bought this map, printed in 1799 or 1800, when he had already landed in France for his 1826 tour since travel material relating to Brittany was difficult to acquire in England at this date. 1 He evidently kept the sheet close to hand during the journey since he used its expanses of blank paper to jot down little notes and sketches as he went along.
The top edge of the sheet bears pencil notes, reading ‘Pt L[...]don | Sonany’ and ‘Petit [...]ay’, and notes in the top left left-hand corner read ‘Ju[...]’, ‘M[...]’ and ‘Ca[...]roux’. A notes reads ‘Lan[...]’ on the right-hand edge.
Around the edge of the oval title cartouche in the bottom left-hand corner of the sheet are several figures in the peasant dress of Northern France. These are accompanied by multiple brief notes describing the colour of the costumes depicted.
Within the rectangular cartouche at the bottom of the sheet, and just above it, are little sketches of the settlements of Saint Mal and Dinan which Turner took on the journey from Cherbourg to Morlaix. These are accompanied by cursory notes, reading ‘?Brief p[...]’, ‘Loire’, ‘Landeux’ and ‘[...]il’.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.22.
See entry for Tate D34923 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 426 v).

John Chu
March 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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