Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notre-Dame de Caudebec, Normandy

?1832

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D23550
Turner Bequest CCLII 17

Catalogue entry

This page is dominated by a detailed pencil sketch of the Church of Notre-Dame at Caudebec-en-Caux viewed from the high ground to the east of the town. The Seine valley features in the distance and the town’s rooftops in the foreground, while the church’s late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Gothic architecture is carefully delineated.1 Clearly visible are the edifice’s two contrasting spires, dense rows of pinnacles and flying buttresses, and the tall pointed roofs of the side chapels ranged around the apse. Towards the top left-hand corner of the page, Turner began to inscribe a detail of the ornamentation at the top of the spire. For examples of the watercolours of Caudebec that Turner worked up with a view to engraved reproduction around this time, see Tate D20235 (Turner Bequest CCXXI B), D24670 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 105), D24760 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 195), and D24818 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 253). These culminated in an engraving in the 1834 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France); see Tate impression T05601.
Caudebec and its church, of all the Seine valley sights, were the subject of particular study in this sketchbook; see folios 17 verso–18 verso (D23551–D23553; Turner Bequest CCLII 17a–18a); 27 recto (D23570; Turner Bequest CCLII 27); 39 recto (D23593; Turner Bequest CCLII 39); 39 verso (D23594; Turner Bequest CCLII 39a); 49 verso (D23612; Turner Bequest CCLII 49a); 64 verso (D23642; Turner Bequest CCLII 64a); 69 verso (D23652; Turner Bequest CCLII 69a).
With the sketchbook turned vertically, Turner depicted another view of a settlement surmounted by a tall Gothic spire on the right-hand side of the page. As well as Caudebec, the town of Harfleur at the mouth of the Seine fits this description although the spire and surrounding terrain are too cursorily sketched too confirm which location is featured here. For comparisons, see examples of the watercolours of Harfleur which Turner painted around this date: Tate D24667 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 102), D24654 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 89), D24761 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 196).

John Chu
April 2014

1
See Maurice Dragon, L’église Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux, Luneray 1997.

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