Joseph Mallord William Turner

Grenoble from the River Drac; the Bastille, Mont Rachais and Mont St Eynard


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 215 × 282 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXIV 15

Catalogue entry

For Turner’s visit to Grenoble in 1802 see Introduction to the sketchbook and notes to D04495; Turner Bequest LXXIV 3.
One of Turner’s labels inscribed ‘Grenoble Mt Blanc’ or ‘fort de Grenoble’ probably refers to this drawing, which shows the city from the south, beside the River Drac, with Mont Rachais on the left and Mont St Eynard in the centre, with Mont de l’Ecoutoux or the Chamechaude between them. The ramparts of the Bastille climb the slope from the Porte de France beside the River Isère. Towards the right, the south-eastern massif of the Chartreuse overlooks the Valley of Grenoble while Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance. The spire of the Church of Saint-Laurent is recognisable above the roofs of the city. A similar view from this sketchbook, taken from slightly further to the west, is D04541; Turner Bequest LXXIV 49 (stamped ‘O’). For comments and corrections on the contents of these drawings, the author is grateful to Roland Courtot of the University of Aix-en-Provence.1
In his catalogue notes for Marlborough House, John Ruskin described the present drawing as ‘first rate in cloud and hill drawing’.2 Drawings entitled ‘Grenoble, with Mont Blanc’ were exhibited at the National Gallery with exhibition numbers 5 and 546b,3 and were numbered by Finberg 15 and 18 respectively within the Grenoble series. However, the present sheet is stamped ‘Y’ and Finberg’s ‘18’ is untraced, leaving the possibility that the same drawing was listed twice.
The sheet is badly faded from exposure.
Email dated 10 February 2012; copy in Tate catalogue files.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.265; Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.227.
For these numbers, Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.375.
Blank, inscribed perhaps by a later hand in pencil ‘no15’

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

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