The Belgian town of Spa, the Scottish publisher William Chambers writes:
may be observed to consist of a cluster of neat white houses, thrown into the form of two or three irregular streets and open promenades, the whole embowered amidst trees and gardens, and overhung, on the north and east, by a woody mountain range.1
‘Highly distinguished for its springs’, Chambers continues, ‘Spa was resorted to... by many persons of wealth from England’ as a healthful place of rest and repair from which to take the healing waters.2
In this drawing, Turner depicts the town in the foothills of the Ardennes from the road leading to Liège. It is nestled in a vale highlighted with illuminating white and pale yellow gouache. The architecture of Spa, the rooftops of its local houses as well as the lofty spire of the Church of Saint-Rémacle, is loosely drawn over the top of the gouache in pen and black ink. Figures occupy the foreground in Turner’s drawing: tourists or locals, looking out onto the expansive view, and taking in the panorama of the surrounding countryside.
Inscribed in pencil ‘114 a’ towards bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXCII–66’ at bottom right and left.