Turner’s vantage point here is the shrub-dotted fields surrounding the Liège road on the outskirts of Namur. Wall-girdled, the spires, domes and towers of Namur’s architecture are suggested in abbreviated and summary pen and ink line. ‘Like all places hemmed in by walls’, the publisher William Chambers writes, Namur ‘consists of crooked and narrow streets, environed with tall old houses’.1 It is presided over by a citadel, ‘a series of loop-holed battlements over looking the town, and commanding both the vales of the Sambre and Meuse’.2 The citadel, in this drawing, is made conspicuous by Turner’s application of coral and pale lemon gouache highlights. As Andrew Wilton writes, Namur fortress is typical of the military architecture found in ‘the border land between France, Germany and the Low Countries’.3 These:
elaborate piles of masonry with vast unarticulated walls and interconnecting galleries were for Turner fantastic places that seemed to rise organically out of the rock... In his studies they are nearly always presented as quasi-natural phenomena, without commentary on their military function which so often occurs in other contexts...4
In comparison with another view of Namur from the Liège road (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), this gouache is comprised of a more muted palette: mossy greens, bronze and ‘twilight lavender’.5 The composition derives from a pencil sketch in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook (Tate D28123; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 43). For other of Turner’s 1839 gouaches of Namur see Tate D24716; Turner Bequest CCLIX 151 which is also based on a pencil drawing in the same sketchbook (Tate D28119; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 41).
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLIX–146’ at centre towards bottom; inscribed in pencil ‘23a’ at top towards left and ‘CCLIX 146’ at bottom right.
- townscapes / man-made features(21,653)
- townscape, distant(8,117)