Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tancarville from the East (‘Front View’)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 139 × 196 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 128

Catalogue entry

By J.T. Willmore in 1833, published in 1834.
In this watercolour, Turner presents a tranquil view of Tancarville castle, in northern France, illuminated by warm golden evening light. Turner portrays the sun glowing magnificently over the castle’s twin towers and crenellated Coquesart Tower at right. He evokes the castle’s spacious courtyard between the twin towers and the tower at left, and masterfully depicts the sun shining through the row of tall poplar trees and striating the castle wall below with tall shadows. Sun streams into the castle courtyard. At lower right the wheel of a mill turns in the water; figures and boats populate the shallow water at lower left, all conveying a sense of quiet activity.
This watercolour is based in particular on sketches (Tate D23789 and D23791,1 as well as D23804;2 Turner Bequest CCLIII 46a, 47a, 54) among those Turner made of Tancarville castle in his Tancarville and Lillebonne sketchbook (D23721, D23787–D23804; CCLIII 12, 45a–54), believed to date from 1829.
An engraving was made of this watercolour by J.T. Willmore in 1833, as Tancarville (Tate impressions T05597 and T06226) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 18343 (titled ‘Tancarville (Front View)’ in the 'List of Engravings’). In the engraving the sun has been moved over to the right and higher in the sky so that it is no longer partially obscured by a tower. A boat has also been placed on the horizon at far left and the buildings at lower right in particular have been given greater definition.
Warrell 1999, p.273.
Wilton 1979, p.412.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.56.
Blank, except for an inscription ‘8’ in grey gouache in the upper left corner of the sheet, and at the bottom of the page, on the left, with the page turned upside down, ‘Tankerville’ in grey gouache, both inscriptions probably made by Turner. At lower right the sheet is inscribed with a pencil note reading ‘16 [?L]. The lower centre of the sheet is stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram above the number ‘CCLIX – 128’, which is also written in pencil at lower centre of the sheet.

Caroline South
November 2017

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