Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Banks of the River Seine by Villequier


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 107 × 156 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIII 55 a

Catalogue entry

The page contains two sketches, both drawn horizontally, of hilly landscapes. Finberg identified this page as ‘Banks of Seine’, comparing the engraving noted below.1 Various art historians have noted2 that this formed the preliminary sketch for Turner’s later watercolour, Between Quillebeuf and Villequier, c.1832 (Tate D24669; Turner Bequest CCLIX 104),3 which was engraved for Turner’s Annual Tour Wanderings by the Seine, 1834 (Tate impressions: T05609, T06241). There, Turner contrasts sailing boats and steamboats as old and new, a juxtaposition later seen in his renowned painting, The Fighting ‘Temeraire’, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up, 1838, exhibited in 1839 (Turner Bequest, National Gallery, London).4
Art historian Ian Warrell explains that the lower sketch shows the slopes of the Brotonne forest on the southern side of the River Seine, whilst the upper sketch shows the northern side at Villequier with sailboats on the river, and that Turner brought these two sketches together to form a continuous scene in the watercolour. The church at Aizier is depicted at lower right, and to the right of the church Turner has included a rough annotation ‘Ay’ to indicate Aizier.5 The Aizier and Villequier locations have also been confirmed elsewhere.6

Caroline South
May 2017

Finberg 1909, II, p.770.
Papastamos and others 1981, p.136 note 81; Egerton and others 1995, p.136 no.44; Wilton 1979, p.414 under no.968; Warrell 1999, p.274 no.125.
Wilton 1979, p.414 no.968, reproduced.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.229–31 no.377, pl.381 (colour); see Lyles 1992, pp.18–19, 61 under no.30.
Warrell 1999, pp.148, 260 note 76, p.274 no.125.
?Ian Warrell, ‘Turner on the Seine: Topographical Index’, c.1999, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain (printout in copy of Warrell 1999), pp.1, 6.

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