Here Turner depicts the city of Sedan, located in the Ardennes region of northern France. The view is taken from the Porte de Bouillon toward the south-east of the city, and incorporates the twin-towered baroque Church of Saint-Charles, which is rendered in blue, and the citadel at right, coloured in peach gouache. The flat pastures and low rolling hills of the Ardennes extend expansively beyond the city.
A small troop of soldiers with horses is visible in the foreground: a supplementary but important detail which reminds the viewer of Sedan’s formidable military history. Positioned in a highly strategic location on the Meuse and within miles of the French border with Belgium, Sedan was once at the fault line of conflict during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). Cecilia Powell writes that the foreground also provides Turner’s view with a ‘requisite sense of scale’ with which to frame and proportion the landscape beyond. 1
Powell 1991, p.164 no.104.
Inscribed in pencil ‘95’ at centre.
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