Joseph Mallord William Turner

Le Havre: Sunset in the Port


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 133

Catalogue entry

By James B. Allen in 1833, published in 1834.
In this watercolour, Turner conveys sunset in the busy port of Le Havre in northern France. In the manner of the renowned seventeenth-century French artist Claude Lorrain, whom Turner admired, sunlight streams forwards dramatically, diffusing over the whole scene. The Tower of François Ier (subsequently destroyed in 18611) is depicted on the right. The striped and smoking funnel of a steamer is visible at lower right, and French flags hang at right and left of the view. As, similarly, in another watercolour in this Seine rivers series, Melun, c.1833 (Tate D24690, Turner Bequest CCLIX 125), amongst the bustle of figures and activity at the waterside, a silhouetted figure with their back to the viewer, in this instance a boy at lower left, calmly surveys the scene, and provides a focal point for the viewer.
The watercolour was based on a pencil sketch depicting the general composition with a steamer (Tate D24046; Turner Bequest CCLIV 83a) in Turner’s Seine and Paris sketchbook from 1832, but this was a viewpoint Turner sketched frequently.2
An engraving was made from the watercolour by James B. Allen in 1833, as Havre (Tate impression T04698) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1834.3
Warrell 1999, p.273
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.4.
Previous records note ’13 Havre, the Quay’, ‘3’ and ‘Allen’ however at the time of writing (November 2017) the work is on loan and not available for inspection and confirmation.

Caroline South
November 2017

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