Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lillebonne Castle and the Church of Notre-Dame, Lillebonne


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 107 × 156 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIII 29

Catalogue entry

The page appears to contain two sketches, both drawn horizontally. Finberg noted this page as ‘Ruined castle on hill. – “F. St. Denis.”’,1 and the location of Lillebonne has been confirmed.2 Art historian Andrew Wilton3 states that the view depicted is from almost the same viewpoint (as with folio 37 recto; D23770) as that of Turner’s watercolour, Lillebonne, Looking towards the Seine, 1832 (Tate D24675; Turner Bequest CCLIX 110),4 which was engraved for Turner’s Annual Tour Wanderings by the Seine, 1834 (Tate impression: T04702). However, the present sketch appears to be from the more comparable viewpoint.
The lower, main sketch shows Lillebonne castle at centre and the spire of the Church of Notre-Dame, Lillebonne, at right. (For further information on the church see under folio 28 recto; D23752.) There is text at bottom right of the page which, as Finberg noted, appears to read ‘F St Denis’. This indicates a reference to La Fontaine-Saint-Denis, which is the name of the site of the ruined Lillebonne castle. This fortified castle was built in the eleventh century, by the counts of Evreux. It is a rare example from France’s first feudal age and its scale testifies to the importance of the area in the Middle Ages.5 In this sketch Turner concentrates on the shapes formed by the ruins and the church; he appears to draw the same castle buildings on the hill, at top centre of the page, but from a different angle.

Caroline South
May 2017

Finberg 1909, II, p.769.
?Ian Warrell, ‘Turner on the Seine: Topographical Index’, c.1999, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain (printout in copy of Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999), p.3.
Wilton 1979, p.413 under no.958.
Ibid., no.958, reproduced.
‘Les Vestiges de la Fontaine Saint Denis’,, accessed 2 March 2017,

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