Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant View of Abbeville from next to a Windmill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVII 22

Catalogue entry

After reaching Ostend on 7 September 1824, Turner travelled south into Northern France to sketch Calais, Dieppe and Abbeville before his tour came to an end and he set sail on his return journey to England. It was close to the last of these French towns that he drew the final two sketches in this book: the present drawing and that on the following folio (Tate D20117; Turner Bequest CCXVII 23). Here Turner draws Abbeville from a lofty vantage point next to a windmill (seen at far right), presumably the same as shown in CCXVII 23. This view incorporates the majority of Abbeville’s ecclesiastical and civic buildings, including the town Belfry dating from 1209 and the Collegiate Church of St Vulfran.
In 1909 Finberg identified this sketch as showing Crécy-en-Ponthieu, the site of the 1346 Battle of Crécy, one of the earliest and most important battles of the Hundred Years War fought between the Kingdoms of England and France. However, as Cecilia Powell states, Turner’s subject is clearly the outskirts of Abbeville and not Crécy-en-Ponthieu, situated ‘a dozen miles away’.1
Other sketches taken in Northern France on this leg of the tour are found in the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook. They include: Tate D19929, D19931, D19933, D19935, D19937, D19938, D19942, D19943, D19948, D20016–D20028; Turner Bequest CCXVI 189, 190a, 191a, 192a, 193a, 194, 196, 196a, 199, 237–243.
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.683 and Powell 1991, p.43 note 33 [p.60]

Alice Rylance-Watson
January 2014

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