Joseph Mallord William Turner

Paris: The Marché aux Fleurs and the Pont au Change


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 120

Catalogue entry

By William Radclyffe in 1834, published in 1835.
In this watercolour, Turner depicts the flower market, the Marché aux Fleurs, on the banks of the river Seine, in Paris, France. The Pont au Change bridge spans the mid-ground. Turner places the viewer in the heart of Parisian activity. The foreground is filled with figures engaged in the market. The buildings of Paris, including the Louvre and Tuileries palaces, stretch off into the background as far as the eye can see. Turner conveys the scene in lilac-grey shadows and sparkling highlights. The Conciergerie building on the left is almost in silhouette whereas light falls over the bustling figures in the foreground and illuminates the buildings in the right background. Contrasting lilac and auburn tones shape the arches of the Pont au Change bridge and the Pont Neuf bridge behind. These colours and light suggest evening beginning to fall over the city.
The watercolour is based on a pencil sketch (Tate D24298; Turner Bequest CCLVII 67a)1 from Turner’s Paris and Environs sketchbook of 1832.
An engraving was made of this watercolour by William Radclyffe, as Marché aux Fleurs and the Pont au Change (Tate impressions T04721, T05622 and T06259) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1835.2
Wilton 1979, p.416; Lyles 1992, p.63; Warrell 1999, p.277.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1835, opposite p.176.
Previous records note inscriptions in gouache ‘14 | Paris’ and in pencil ‘15’; however, at time of writing the watercolour was on display and the back therefore not available for examination and confirmation.

Caroline South
November 2017

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