Joseph Mallord William Turner

St-Florent-le-Vieil, Northern France


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 144 × 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 9

Display caption

Although they were probably produced around the same time, there could not be a greater contrast between the style of Turner's two views of St-Florent-le-Vieil. The more finished work was produced for the published series, for which it was engraved by the young engraver Robert Brandard. The other view looks much more spontaneous, almost as if Turner has attempted to paint the transforming action of light itself, as it begins to give shape and body to the towers on the hillside. Although it has sometimes been thought to be a study for the other work, its different viewpoint indicates Turner had some other purpose in mind in making it, and in leaving it so unresolved.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

This spare, much-admired evocation of the abbey of St-Florent-le-Vieil is one of several colour studies of landmarks of the River Loire which Turner worked up from his 1826 tour of Northern France. It is based on sketches he took of the site in the Nantes, Angers and Saumur sketchbook; see entry for Tate D23185 and D23186 (Turner Bequest CCXLVIII 18, 19).1
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Loire, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.221 no.71.
Technical Notes:
The sheet belongs to a batch of lightweight blue paper used by Turner made by George Steart of Bally, Ellen and Steart at De Montault Mill, Coombe Down, Bath.1
Ibid. p.238.
Inscribed in pencil with the note ‘99’ in the centre of the page.

John Chu
March 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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