Joseph Mallord William Turner

Granville, Normandy


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 190 × 273 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 234

Display caption

Turner seems to have used the process of making 'colour studies' as a means of establishing how a particular lighting effect would clothe the outline shapes of his topographical material, in a sense allowing light to define form. These loose studies were an interim stage between the pencil sketches he made on the spot and his finished watercolours. For example, this is one of two colour studies showing the coast at Granville in Normandy. Both works are derived from sketches in the 'Coutances and Mt St Michel' sketchbook (TB CCL) and are characterised by the radiant light of sunset falling across the bay. However, despite making a promising start, Turner is not known to have produced a finished watercolour of this view.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

This is one of a batch of colour sketches of the promontory Granville in Normandy which Turner worked up from material gathered on his 1826 tour of Northern France. It is based on pencil drawings jotted down in the Cherbourg, Coutances and Mont St Michel sketchbook; see D23345 and D23362 (Turner Bequest CCL 5a, 15).1 See the Introduction to this section for a list of the comparable colour sketches of Granville. These may have been worked up in connection with one of several abortive attempts to put the material gathered on the 1826 tour of Northern France to use, most likely the failed The English Channel or La Manche print series.2
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, pp. 217 no.40.
Warrell, London 1997, pp.165–71.
See Tate D40140.

John Chu
March 2016

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