Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tancarville, with the Town of Quillebeuf in the Distance (‘Back View’)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 130

Catalogue entry

By Robert Brandard in 1833, published in 1834.
Turner has worked watercolour and gouache to create this shimmering scene of Tancarville castle in northern France, looking over the sweeping meanders of the river Seine twisting away into the distance. A gleaming sun illuminates the view, shining on the water, only a sandbank at centre breaking its reflected sheen. With white gouache Turner picks out the glow of cliffs at lower left, and further back, the castle’s twin towers and wall rambling away to the right, as well as the slender tree trunks in the far-left mid-ground, immediately above a group of figures. The light also scintillates through the trees at bottom right.
Art historian Andrew Wilton states that the watercolour is based on a sketch (Tate D23789; Turner Bequest CCLIII 46a) in Turner’s Tancarville and Lillebonne sketchbook,1 believed to date from 1829, yet the viewpoint in the sketch is rather different and seems to show the opposite end (the front view) of the castle. Art historian Ian Warrell points to a different page (D23804; CCLIII 54) as a preliminary sketch.2
An engraving was made of the watercolour by Robert Brandard in 1833, as Chateau de Tancarville, with the Town of Quilleboeuf (Tate impressions T04701, T05598 and T06227) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 18343 (titled ‘Tancarville (Back View)’ in the ‘List of Engravings’). Turner’s evocation of light trailing across the left of the castle is transposed into engraving with particular skill. It also gives greater emphasis to the tower on the top of the hill at far right.
Wilton 1979, p.413.
Warrell 1999, p.274.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.52.
Previous records note ‘inscribed in gouache ‘5/7 Tankerville Castle and Quileboeuf’; however at the time of writing the back was covered with a closed mount and simply marked ‘No image on the back.’

Caroline South
November 2017

Read full Catalogue entry


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