Joseph Mallord William Turner

Grenoble from the River Isère, with the Porte de France


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 14 a

Display caption

Turner visited Grenoble in 1802 on his first continental tour, and made a series of drawings of the city and its surrounding mountains. Those in the so-called 'Grenoble' sketchbook are in monochrome media on toned paper. Here Turner has captured the vivid effect of sunlight on the walls of the fortress beside the Drac, and observed the bustling life of the river.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

For Turner’s visit to Grenoble in 1802 see Introduction to the sketchbook and notes to D04495; Turner Bequest LXXIV 3.
Turner’s label for this drawing is inscribed ‘Ville de Grenoble Pont pour les Carousses Port de France Citadel &c’ [sic]. From the River Isère the artist looks east towards the city; in the left foreground is the Porte de France (built in 1620) and behind it the ramparts running up to the Bastille. The bridge on the right corresponds to the position of the present-day Pont Goutard. The cluster of buildings to its left includes the convent of the Visitation-de-Sainte-Marie d’en-Haut (today the Musée Dauphinoise). The river is bustling with activity and the shadows cast by boats and figures on the water and highlights of white on buildings indicate a bright, sunny day. The Belledonne massif is in the distance. For comments on this subject, the author is grateful to Roland Courtot of the University of Aix-en-Provence.1 For views of the city and river from this sketchbook, with a different, wooden bridge, see the recto, D04506; Turner Bequest 14, and D04508; Turner Bequest LXXIV 15.
In his catalogue notes for Marlborough House, John Ruskin thought this drawing ‘less valuable than most of the series [of Sketches in Savoy and Piedmont], but interesting in the way in which [Turner] climbs from the near building on the right to the fort above, along the winding wall’.2
Email dated 14 March 2012; copy in Tate catalogue files.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.266; Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.227.
Blank, inscribed by a later hand in pencil ‘no14a Grenoble’

David Blayney Brown
March 2012

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