Joseph Mallord William Turner

Harbour and ‘Fish Market Dieppe’


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 16

Catalogue entry

The four sketches on this page were made at Dieppe harbour. At the top is one of Turner’s studies of local figures. During his tour of France in 1821, and especially at Dieppe, he took the opportunity to record the appearance of the people he saw – recording the distinctive caps and aprons of the women and the uniforms of soldiers, and sometimes noting down the colours of different garments as he has here – and the work and activities that engaged them. This scene depicts women at a ‘Fish market [in] Dieppe’, according to Turner’s note. He has depicted them from behind, engaged in cleaning or gutting fish. Nets and coils of rope are nearby and to the right a small group of soldiers stand around. This group may have inspired the foreground figures in Turner’s oil study of Dieppe: The Port from the Quai Henri IV, ?1827–8 (Tate N03385).1
The sketch beneath also relates to this oil study. Like the later work, it depicts the Quai Henry IV with the bridge beyond in the harbour. Turner’s main interest in this drawing, however, is the two coaches, one of which is a diligence, the type of coach that the artist travelled in on this tour. This part of the drawing (as well as the harbour view to some extent) was used by the artist for a watercolour study of the harbour executed around 1826 (Tate D20209; Turner Bequest CCXX C) for which he also referred to folios 13 and 32 (Tate D24524, D24560; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 13, 32).2 At the left of the scene is the fountain that also appears on folio 13.
The third sketch down is a study of a boat in the harbour with its sails down. Another sketch in the book depicts a boat in the process of lowering its sails so may be related to this one (folio 1 verso; Tate D24501; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1v). There are figures with barrels on the quayside to the right.
Finally, at the very bottom of the page is a very different type of study of a boat. Turner has here provided a bird’s-eye view of the deck of a sailing vessel as if seen from the central mast. This diagram demonstrates that Turner’s interest in the subject of French vessels compelled him to learn about their structure and design as well as their appearance.

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Bultin and Joll 1984, p.179 no.316 as ‘Scene on the Banks of a River’.
Warrell 1997, p.211 note 11; Warrell 1999, pp.29, 253 notes 48 and 70. Butlin and Joll also suggest that this group are similar to a group of seated women at the extreme right of the oil painting Harbour of Dieppe (Changement de Domicile), exhibited 1825 (The Frick Collection, New York): Butlin and Joll 1984, p.141 no.231.

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