Joseph Mallord William Turner

Chamonix: Mont Blanc and the Arve Valley from the Path to the Montenvers


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 318 × 472 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXV 18

Technique and condition

In this painting on grey-washed wove paper, indigo has been used in the sky, foreground and middle ground, sometimes mixed with other pigments. All these areas have faded or changed tone: Finberg noted the loss of colour in the earlier twentieth century. A tiny strip of surviving blue on the top edge, left of centre, shows the extent of the change. The warm brown earth pigments mixed with indigo for the originally greener foreground landscape now create a rather uniform impression of warmth, and match the colour of the pine trees more than Turner intended. Where the trees were darkest against the hillside, some of their dark green-black colour remains, but where they were painted paler against the sky, only brown is left behind, giving the upper branches a bleak and dying appearance. The white gouache used for the snow-capped mountains also looks less dramatic against pale, now-uniform grey sky that might have been modulated with clouds painted in different strengths of blue indigo wash.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

Catalogue entry


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