Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folies-Siffait and Oudon, Loire Valley


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour, gouache and pen and watercolour on paper
Support: 143 × 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 138

Display caption

Close to the small town of Oudon Turner came across an apparently ruined ancient fortress. In fact, the towers and terraces he recorded had been created only very recently by a man called Maximilien Siffait, who was an entrepreneur involved in establishing a steamboat service on the river at Nantes. He began work on the riverside follies as a means of employing local labourers, many of whom had been left without work during a period of agricultural hardship. It is estimated he spent 200,000 francs on his follies as a means of keeping fifty families employed. Despite the obscurity of this location, one of Turner's colour sketches proved to be the only Loire scene he developed as an oil painting.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner made this colour study of the recently-constructed riverside garden folly, the Folies Siffait, with the Tower of Oudon in the distance after his 1826 tour of the River Loire. It shows these sites from the west and is based on pencil sketches in the Nantes, Angers and Saumur sketchbook; see entry for Tate D23172- D23173 (Turner Bequest CCXLVIII 11a-12).1
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.220 no.66.
Technical Notes:
The sheet belongs to a batch of blue paper used by Turner made by George Steart of Bally, Ellen and Steart at De Montault Mill, Coombe Down, Bath.1
Ibid. p.238.
Inscribed in pencil with the note ‘19’.

John Chu
March 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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