Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 x 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 121

Display caption

This is one of the forty designs which were engraved for the two volumes of views on the River Seine (published 1834 and 1835). Although St Denis is ostensibly the subject of this image, the ancient cathedral is relegated to the distance, and even the activities of the people in the foreground are of secondary interest to the enveloping coolness of the moonlight. In much the same way that many of Turner's later paintings present forms outlined by the strong sunlight at the centre of his image, he is here exploiting the subdued silhouettes created by a full moon.

Gallery label, September 2004

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