Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fishing Boats and the Fort at Ambleteuse

1845

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 238 x 336 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35390
Turner Bequest CCCLVII 5

Catalogue entry

To the left of this sketch, amidst a burst of yellow sunlight can be seen the seventeenth-century fort just off the coast near Ambleteuse, which also features in the Boulogne sketchbook of the same tour (Tate D35413; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 11).1 A similar compositional device also features in the two preceding sketches as originally constituted in the present sketchbook (D35388–D35389; Turner Bequest CCCLVII 3, 4). On the same side, somewhat closer to the viewer, is a foreshortened view of a lone fishing vessel. Less easy to make out is the red object at the centre of the composition. Robert Upstone perceives a man in a top hat running across the beach in these pencil and brush dashes although a red-sailed fishing boat coming into harbour is more consistent with the sketch’s perspective.2 By the 1840s, small-scale fishing had become the main industry of the now ‘wretched’ village at Ambleteuse as its military-strategic importance declined during the post-Napoleonic peace with Great Britain.3 With unusual exactness, Turner’s inscription dates this sketch to 12 May 1845.
1
See Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, French Fortifications, 1715–1815: An Illustrated History, Jefferson NC 2010, p.188.
2
Upstone 1993, p.56.
3
J. Brunet, New Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 3rd ed., Boulogne 1840, p.133.
Technical notes:
There is a margin of discolouration to the extreme left of the page.
Verso:
Blank

John Chu
December 2013

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