Joseph Mallord William Turner

Château Gaillard from the East


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and watercolour on paper
Support: 141 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 113

Catalogue entry

By J.T. Smith in 1834, published in 1835.
In this watercolour, Turner presents a particularly bold, sweeping view from high, over a looping meander of the river Seine in northern France. At centre stands the ruined medieval castle, Château Gaillard, constructed in the twelfth century by order of Richard the Lionheart, who was King of England but also, due to his Plantagenet family roots, Duke of Normandy, France.1 Light shines through the empty windows of the castle at left and picks out the edges of crumbled stonework at right. The dramatically darkened sky and vertical brushstrokes at left suggest a storm may be coming. All these elements evoke ruin, decay and the castle’s turbulent military past. As art historian Anne Lyles considers, even the panoramic landscape spread out below is a reminder of the domains the castle once commanded.2 Figures in the bottom left corner and bottom foreground contemplate the scene. The village of Les Andelys (which was the birthplace of Nicolas Poussin,3 the renowned seventeenth-century French artist) is portrayed in the lower right corner.
The watercolour is based on pencil sketches (Tate D23989, D23991,4 D23992 and D23993;5 Turner Bequest CCLIV 55, 56, 56a, 57) in Turner’s Seine and Paris sketchbook, dating from 1832.
An engraving was made of this watercolour by J.T. Willmore in 1834 as Château Gaillard from the East (Tate impression T04709) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1835.6
‘Château Gaillard (Les Andelys)’,, accessed 12 October 2017,; Lyles 1992, p.45.
Lyles 1992, p.45.
Wilton 1979, p.414; Warrell 1999, p.276.
Warrell 1999, p.276.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1835, opposite p.36.
Blank, except for an inscription ‘2’ in the top left corner and ‘Chateau Gilliard | and Petit Andely’ at the centre of the sheet, both written in red gouache, probably by Turner. The numeral ‘2’ has also been inscribed in pencil, in the top left corner. At the right of the sheet ‘6a’ has been noted in pencil. The lower right of the sheet is stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram above the number ‘CCLIX – 113’, which is also written in pencil above.

Caroline South
November 2017

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