Joseph Mallord William Turner

St-Germain-en-Laye: The Terraces Seen from Below


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 140 × 194 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 39

Catalogue entry

This sheet is one of a series of sketches associated with a tour of the Seine with a proposed dating of 1827–9. The studies are characterised by the use of pen and ink on blue paper; for more information see the Introduction to this section.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye on the Seine was known for its associations with both the exiled British monarch James II and with the French monarchy. A 1.5 mile long stone terrace was built between 1669 and 1673, which still allows the visitor to look on a view over the Seine valley and distant Paris. Turner chose a viewpoint from the terrace for some of his views: as Ian Warrell has noted, he used the same spot earlier chosen by Thomas Girtin, which had led to a panoramic aquatint etched by J.C. Stadler in 18031. For Turner’s views from the high terrace made around the same time as the present sheet, see Tate D24896 (Turner Bequest CCLX 60) and Tate D24895 (Turner Bequest CCLX 59), also catalogued within this section. The latter of these inspired a view for Turner’s 1835 Annual Tour print series (Tate D24687; Turner Bequest CCLIX 122).
The present sheet, however, is taken from a lower viewpoint. It includes many more figures than the wider format outlooks, inviting us to see a snapshot of life in the village as opposed to the grandeur of the alternative viewpoints. A related pen and ink drawing, possibly made during a slightly later visit (Tate D24874; Turner Bequest CCLX 38), is also taken from a lower viewpoint; however, the later sheet is without the bustle of village life seen in the present sketch.
Warrell 1999, p.210.
Technical notes:
There is possible evidence of water damage, perhaps from the 1928 Tate Gallery flood; see for example the area above the figures in the lower left.
This sheet has been laid down on heavy paper and the verso could not be examined at the time of cataloguing.

Elizabeth Jacklin
October 2018

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop