Turner’s return journey through France in January 1820 took him to Avallon, a town in the Burgundy region of France, approximately thirty miles south-east of Auxerre. He had first sketched the town in the France, Savoy, Piedmont sketchbook during his 1802 tour (see for example Tate D04402; Turner Bequest LXXIII 10). The larger composition on this page depicts a distant view of the Avallon from the west looking back from the road to Auxerre. The town can be seen on the hill to the left, while to the right is the River Cousin, winding its way through the landscape into the distance. Turner has liberally annotated the sheet with colour notes and his inscriptions recording ‘Grey’ and ‘Red Light’ suggest that he may have been sketching early in the morning with the sun rising in the east. Also on the page are memoranda of daily life including ‘People going to market’ and a man with a cow and a goat.
In the top right-hand corner is a further study recording the silhouette of some of the more famous landmark buildings in Avallon such as the church and the Porte d’Horloge. Compare the 1802 sketch (Tate D04403; Turner Bequest LXXIII 11).