Joseph Mallord William Turner

Overlapping Sketches of Dinant Looking Upstream


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 78 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 53 a

Catalogue entry

In a series of swiftly rendered overlapping sketches, Turner depicts the town of Dinant on the Meuse. The citadel and the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame are pictured, along with the ancient stone bridge and the Porte Saint-Martin, which is decorated with a squatter version of the same onion-shaped dome as Notre-Dame. The Victorian travel writer Dudley Costello had little admiration for the church’s ‘oddly shaped spire’ which, in his opinion, seemed to have been ‘raised on no conceivable principle of art’.1 The building, however, possessed ‘some features worthy of notice’, such as the ‘two kinds of calcareous stone, gray and white, and the black marble’ of the region used in its construction.2 Notre-Dame’s tower, too, possesses ‘a fine carillon, whose melody rings in the air every half quarter of an hour – a little too often, perhaps, on a first acquaintance’.3
The steep ridge which looms over Dinant is pictured in the central sketch, and built atop it, ‘at a sharp angle’, Costello writes, is the citadel, ‘a formidable fortress, which commands all the approaches to the town, and appears to laugh a siege to scorn’.4
For other views of Dinant taken in 1824, see Tate D19655, D19657–D19663, D20109–D20113; Turner Bequest CCXVI 53, 54–57, CCXVII 16–19. For later views see Tate D28094, D28122, D28125, D28142, D28147, D28153, D28155–D28158, D28160–D28166, D41091; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 27a, 42a, 44a, 53, 56a, 59a, 60a–62a, 63a–66a. There are also colour sketches of the town produced in gouache on blue paper in 1839, some with pen and ink and watercolour added (Tate D20227, D20228, D24724, D28984; Turner Bequest CCXX T, U; CCLIX 159, CCXCII 37).

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2014

Dudley Costello, A Tour through the Valley of the Meuse, London 1846, p.235.
Ibid, p.236.
Ibid, p.208.

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