Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping at Canteleu, Normandy


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 138 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 78

Display caption

As in so many of the studies of the lower Seine, this drawing focuses as much on the working life of the river as on a specific setting. The precise location depicted here has not previously been identified, partly because the details of what Turner depicts are somewhat at variance with reality. Though the church on the left if presumably intended to represent the Convent Ste-Barbe, just below the heights of Canteleu, it is not an accurate depiction of the building. Instead, Turner seems to have had recourse to one of his pen and ink sketches, in which he recorded the church at Louviers (no.27).

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner worked ink, gouache, and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the Seine as it flows past the plateau-top village of Canteleu, Normandy. Sail-boats float upstream at the centre of the scene while figures in the foreground strain to the right, apparently dragging one of the vessels ashore. The architectural features on the far bank include the Convent of Sainte-Barbe with its belfry at the water’s edge and the tower of the Church of Saint-Martin rising above the brow of the hill. Art historian Ian Warrell has identified several drawings in the Tancarville and Lillebonne sketchbook as the basis for this composition: see Tate D23844 (Turner Bequest CCLIII 74), D23845 (Turner Bequest CCLIII 74a), D23851 (Turner Bequest CCLIII 77a).1 The existence of the present colour study suggests that Turner considered the subject as an illustration for Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France) although Canteleu did not make it into this publication in the event. 2
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.270.
W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1908, vol.II, pp.264–76 nos.453–92.
Technical notes:
The verso of this sheet is attached to the mount.

John Chu
August 2014

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