Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Peter’s Church, Louvain, from the East Side of the Town Hall


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 25

Catalogue entry

In this drawing Turner pictures the Belgian city of Louvain and its Grote Markt or main square. Two of the city’s most celebrated civic and ecclesiastical monuments are shown here, their architectural splendour rendered to full effect. At left is the fifteenth-century town hall bathed in a brilliant golden light, and at right, the Brabantine Gothic Church of St Peter. The former building is illuminated with radiant corn-yellow gouache, its architectural elements delineated in brown ink. By contrast, St Peter’s is cast in shadow, drawn in black ink and painted with a translucent veil of palest yellow. The Grote Markt square is peopled with swiftly wrought figures: a milkmaid with a carrying pole, clutches of bystanders chatting, and traders with carts and wheelbarrows selling their wares.
The colouring is similar to another gouache of Louvain (Tate D20263; Turner Bequest CCXXII D) and one of the main square at Brussels (Tate D24784; Turner Bequest CCLIX 219). The scene is based on a pencil drawing in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28047; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 3a).
Technical notes:
There is some foxing on the verso, perhaps water damage.
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLIX 25’.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

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