Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Apollo Fountain at Versailles, Île de France

c.1833

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 143 x 191 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D24611
Turner Bequest CCLIX 46

Catalogue entry

Turner worked gouache and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the seventeenth-century Apollo Fountain set amidst the gardens of the Château de Versailles near Paris. With the waters of the Grand Canal in the foreground, the gardens rise up to the palace’s western façade as indicated by a faint area of pink paint on the brow of the hill. Turner seems not to have worked up this colour study directly from a preliminary sketch although, as art historian Ian Warrell has noted, drawings taken in this part of the gardens of a similar date are included in the Paris and Environs sketchbook: see especially D24206 (Turner Bequest CCLVII 20a).1 The existence of the present colour study suggests that Turner considered the subject as an illustration for Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France) or the new edition of Walter Scott’s Life of Napoleon Buonaparte (1834–36) although the gardens did not make it into either publication in the event.2
1
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.272.
2
W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1908, vol.II, pp.264–76 nos.453–92, 288–92 nos.525–39.
Technical notes:
The verso of this sheet is attached to the mount.

John Chu
August 2014

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