This gouache is based on two pencil drawings in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28100–D28101; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 31–31a). Turner took these sketches as he crossed the Hoëgne River at Marché de Theux, Belgium, walking up the hillside to look at the remains of the medieval castle of Franchimont from a closer perspective. The solitary ruin is depicted here on a stormy autumnal afternoon atop a burnt ochre hillside, the sky sombre and heavy with slate-grey cloud. Franchimont Castle dates back to the eleventh century and was constructed for the Principality of Liège. 1 The aristocratic La Marck family then added outer walls, casemates and an artillery tower in the early sixteenth century.2
As Cecilia Powell writes, ‘Among Turner’s five gouaches of Franchimont’ the present drawing ‘is the one which best captures the aspect of the ancient ruin which appealed to the Romantic imagination of the early nineteenth century’.3 The chateau, for example, featured in Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion; A Tale of Flodden Field (1808). Turner had, on a number of occasions, been engaged to produce designs and vignettes for Scott’s published work; perhaps the artist had the poet in mind when he himself drew inspiration from the castle in 1839. See also Tate D20266, D20280, D20289, D24732; Turner Bequest CCXXII J, U, CCXXIII D, CCLIX 167.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXII–J’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘6’ at centre towards right; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXII J’ at bottom right.
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