Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Harbour and Beach at Dieppe


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 32

Catalogue entry

Turner has crowded this page with five studies of Dieppe Harbour.1 The top sketch provides a distant view of the Château de Dieppe from near the entrance to the harbour, with sailing boats approaching and a rowing boat just coming into the shore where two figures wait. Beneath this the cliffs at Dieppe provide a backdrop to a scene that Finberg called ‘Fish-wives quarrelling’.2 Their fish are laid out in the sand before them, and Turner has gone to the effort to suggest a variety of different types of fish; (there is a labelled sketch of three fish in the Paris, Seine and Dieppe sketchbook which he also used on this tour: Tate D18572; Turner Bequest CCXI 31). Finberg decoded a column of letters to the left of the two figures as describing a white cap, green kerchief, and white petticoat. This figure also wears either blue or, more likely, black stockings. The figure on the right is dressed in a red cap, a garment that is black with red specks and white garters. ‘Each [has] a fish knife.’3
The third sketch depicts figures and boats on the Quai Henry IV. The view of the harbour towards the bridge roughly corresponds to a watercolour painted by Turner around 1826 (Tate D20209; Turner Bequest CCXX C) and an oil sketch of about 1827–8: Dieppe: The Port from the Quai Henri IV (Tate N03385).4 The sketch beneath depicts a bustling scene on the quay with a horse, figures, barrels, baskets and other paraphernalia, with a row of masts in the background.
The final sketch, at the bottom of the page is a view of the quay with numerous figures, the masts of boats, outline of cliffs in the background and, at the upper right above the bridge, the orb of a rising sun. At the left of the scene are a group of ‘old W[omen] washing fish’ at a fountain. This part of the sketch was used by Turner for a detail at the left of the unfinished oil painting mentioned above. For references to Turner’s other sketches of Dieppe made on this tour, see folio 1 verso (D24501; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1v).

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Ian Warrell, Turner catalogue files, Tate, CCLVIII 32.
Finberg 1909, II, p.788, CCLVIII 32.
Bultin and Joll 1984, p.179 no.316 as ‘Scene on the Banks of a River’. New identification inWarrell 1997, p.211 note 11; and Warrell 1999, pp.29, 253 note 48, 268 under no.53.

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