Turner worked ink, gouache, and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the view of Rouen Cathedral, Normandy as see from the nearby Place de la Haute-Vieille-Tour. Particular attention has been paid to the recession in perspective of the street directly ahead as it leads to the imposing northern portal. The contrast between these elements is made plain by the use of a cool blue tone and busy ink marks for the townhouses and white highlights for the Gothic facade. This is one of seven colour studies of Rouen which Turner worked up around this date with a view to potential publication; for a list of these, see the entry for Tate D24655 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 90). For the finished watercolours of Rouen in the Turner Bequest, see Tate D24672–D24674 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 107–109). All this activity culminated in three engravings 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 impressions T05604, T05605, T05607.
In the top left-hand corner of the sheet is inscribed a pencil note reading ‘6’. Another pencil note on the bottom edge of the page reads ‘CCLIX – 254’.
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