These sketches form the basis of a gouache and watercolour drawing of Dinant, the neighbouring hamlet of Bouvignes and the Castle of Crèvecoeur which presides over it (Tate D20228; Turner Bequest CCXX U). The two sketches at the uppermost register continue onto the folio opposite (Tate D28159; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 63).
Of particular note is Turner’s inscription, ‘Gaspard Poussin’, at the foot of the third landscape sketch. Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), also known as Gaspard Poussin, was a seventeenth-century classical landscape artist from whom Turner drew profound inspiration. Throughout his career, Turner made numerous copies of Dughet’s paintings so that he could learn from them and eventually emulate the grand-manner artist in his own work. 1 Turner may have felt that the landscape before him, from which he produced the present sketch, was reminiscent of a Dughet landscape. He may have also considered the possibility of working up the pencil sketch with ‘Gaspardesque’ elements in mind. Speculation aside, what is certain here is Turner’s employment of a particular compositional device typical of Dughet, known as a repoussoir. This is a framing device, usually the placement of trees or buildings at one or both sides of the foreground of a composition, to construct a ‘central avenue of space’. 2
Ian Warrell, ‘“Stolen hints from celebrated Pictures”: Turner as Copyist, Collector and Consumer of Old Master Paintings’, Turner and the Masters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 2009, pp.41–57, p.43.
Philippa Simpson and Martin Myrone, ‘The Academy and the Grand Style’, Turner and the Masters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 2009, pp.123–43, p.124.
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