Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Martigny; La Bâtiaz from the River Drance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 218 × 284 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXIV 48

Catalogue entry

Finberg listed this as one of a further five drawings associated with this sketchbook which ‘had also been mounted, but have not been exhibited. Their titles, if they had any, have been cut off.’
The present identification, while tentative, is based on the recognition that the same subject appears in a more worked up version from this sketchbook (D04552; Turner Bequest LXXIV 59). The author previously thought the latter drawing depicted Morgex, in the Valdigne, on the basis of its puzzling or incomplete inscription,1 but this location was afterwards rejected by David Hill.2 On further reflection it seems more likely that Turner’s inscription refers to Martigny, in which case the subject would be the Castle of La Bâtiaz from the River Drance. There is a further sketch, very similar to the present one and called Martigny by Finberg, from the same sketchbook (D04557). Turner used the more finished, inscribed drawing as the basis for a watercolour made for Sir William Pilkington and later owned by John Ruskin (Wolverhampton Art Gallery).3 The exact subject of the watercolour was never recorded and, if indeed connected, it must be admitted that it has further idealised and classicised the composition of the sketches, in the process reducing if not eliminating any resemblance to Martigny or its castle. Ruskin, having found D04552 in the sketchbook, renamed his watercolour ‘Scene in Savoy’.
David Blayney Brown, Turner in the Alps 1802, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1998, p.120.
David Hill, ‘Turner in the Alps’, Turner Society News, no.81, March 1999, pp.4–5.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.345 no.401, as untraced.

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

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