Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cliffs ?near Boulogne


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 326 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 5

Catalogue entry

The coast around Boulogne is dotted with Napoleonic strongholds, although none now bear the name ‘Fort Napoleon’ as inscribed towards the bottom right of this sketch. The high cliffs featured centrally in this sketch may locate the view on the three mile stretch of coast between Boulogne and Wimereux where were located the neighbouring forts of Terlincthun and La Crèche.1
The pencil drawing is principally concerned with capturing the outline of a massy headland and some of its geological features. The rest is composed of indecipherable scratches although Turner has recorded the presence and location of certain picturesque details with inscriptions: ‘Fish Women’ to the bottom left and ‘Fishing Village’ to the bottom right. The watercolour passages are lightly applied, with blue and yellow describe the line between sea and sand, and cursory dashes of salmon pink and a lighter blue to suggest the colours of the sky and cliff.
Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, French Fortifications, 1715–1815: An Illustrated History, Jefferson NC 2010, p.187–8.
Blank, except for patch of purple watercolour transferred at top centre from folio 5 recto opposite (D35408; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 6).

John Chu
November 2013

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