Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ruins of the Old Pont Eudes, Tours


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 139 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXI W

Technique and condition

The blue wove paper used for this study, of a type Turner regularly used from his middle years, forms an integral part of the composition. The two bridges, the trees and the more distant buildings to the left were freely painted in watercolour washes with nonetheless careful placing, since the reflection of the nearer bridge and the trees, and the buildings on the far bank, define the full reach of the river, represented by the blue paper and a few light blue watercolour washes. Less pale blue washes and thin applications of white gouache, which both allow the blue paper to make some optical contribution to the surface colour, define the sky. Pigments used include vermilion sometimes combined with lead white for paler pink areas, mid-chrome yellow, yellow and brown ochres combined with black to paint the trees, and possibly cobalt blue. Cobalt blue has a greenish blue tone suitable for a sunlit sky, and Turner used it occasionally for this purpose in watercolour, but far more frequently in oil. In ultraviolet light it has a weak fluorescence, which can serve to identify it when it is used as a pure colour wash.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
March 2011

Catalogue entry

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