Joseph Mallord William Turner

Paris: The Pont Neuf and the Ile de la Cité


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 143 × 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 118

Catalogue entry

By William Miller in 1834, published in 1835.
In this watercolour, Turner presents a view over the River Seine in Paris, France. The Pont Neuf bridge spans the entire view, its arches stretching either side of the Ile de la Cité island at centre. It is considered to be the oldest bridge in Paris, begun in the sixteenth century and completed in 1607 under King Henri III, whose equestrian statue on the bridge is visible just right of centre of the image.1 The cool, clear colours suggest morning light. Turner places the viewer in the hub of the city and its activity. The bridge connects the Left and Right Banks of the Seine in the heart of Paris. The two towers of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame rise above the Ile de la Cité at centre. The foreground is a bustle of figures, boats and activity.
The watercolour is based on pencil sketches (Tate D24274, D24276; Turner Bequest CCLVII 55a, 56a, with half of the bridge shown on each page), in Turner’s Paris and Environs sketchbook2 from 1832.
An engraving was made of this watercolour by William Miller, as Pont Neuf, Paris (Tate impressions T04720, T05621 and T06258) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 18353 (listed as ‘Pont Neuf at Paris’ in the ‘List of Engravings’).
‘Pont Neuf’,, accessed 2 November 2017,; ‘Pont Neuf’,, accessed 2 November 2017,
Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.120; Wilton 1979, p.416; Gage, Ziff, Alfrey and others 1983, p.247; Warrell 1999, p.277.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1835, opposite p.166.
Previous records note inscriptions in gouache ‘17 | Pont Neufe | Paris’ and in pencil ‘14’; however, at the 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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