Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lillebonne Castle and the Town


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 40

Catalogue entry

The page contains a sketch, drawn horizontally, of a castle on a hill overlooking a town with a church tower in the distance on the right. Turner concentrates on details of the castle buildings but also picks out outlines of buildings in the town below and the shape of the church. Finberg noted the subject simply as a ‘Ruined castle’,1 but the location of Lillebonne has been confirmed.2
Art historian Ian Warrell states3 that this sketch (as well as folio 41 verso; D23779) was the preliminary sketch for Turner’s watercolour, Lillebonne, The Château from above the Roman Amphitheatre, c.1832 (Tate D24676; Turner Bequest CCLIX 111),4 which was engraved for Turner’s Annual Tour Wanderings by the Seine, 1834 (Tate impression: T04703), although the church is not depicted in the watercolour. Art historian Andrew Wilton also states that the watercolour was based on sketches in this book.5
From the shapes and positions of the castle buildings and church tower, the view is identifiable as of Lillebonne castle and the Church of Notre-Dame, Lillebonne. (For information on the castle, see under folio 29 recto, D23754; and for the church, under folio 28 recto; D23752.) This is the last in a series of similar sketches (folios 39 recto and verso, and 40 recto; D23774–D23776) showing Turner gradually approaching the castle and the church gaining prominence in the scene.

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 Warrell 1999), p.3.
Warrell 1999, p.274 no.124.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.413 no.959, reproduced.
Ibid., under no.959.

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