Joseph Mallord William Turner

Le Chetif and the Mont Blanc Massif from below Courmayeur

1802

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite, chalk and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 138 × 215 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04460
Turner Bequest LXXIII 62 a

Catalogue entry

From Chamonix Turner circumnavigated Mont Blanc by the usual route of the day, climbing the Col du Bonhomme and the Col de la Seigne before descending to Courmayeur at the head of the Val d’Aosta. This took him from Savoy into Piedmont, though both were then under French control. This sketch looking up the valley to the little town is one of a number in this sketchbook showing the magnificent mountain walls surrounding it; see especially folio 64 verso (D04464) for a similar view, and also folios 65–70 verso (D04465–D04476). Le Chetif appears on the left. This leaf was the basis of one of the most striking watercolours Turner based on the 1802 tour, St Huges denouncing Vengeance on the Shepherd of Cormayer, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London).1 Its splashes of water were presumably spilt while Turner was at work on the picture; similar splashes are on the facing folio 63 (D04461). In both cases they seem too localised to be raindrops falling as he sketched.

David Blayney Brown
June 2004

1
Wilton 1979, p.341 no.364.

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