Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bathing Beach at Boulogne

1845

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 230 × 326 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35416
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 14

Catalogue entry

Amidst the rough pencil scratches and loose washes of this sketch can be discerned the wide beach just to the east of Boulogne harbour, described in the 1840s as ‘a most agreeable bathing place’ and one of the town’s principal attractions.1 Boulogne’s long north-eastern pier and its squat lighthouse dividing the busy port from the bathing beach can be made out on the horizontal line between the sheltering hills and sandy foreground expanse.
The strangely shaped structures quickly scribbled down at the centre left may stand in for the many wagon-like ‘machines’ that carried bathers to shallow waters on that spot.2 Two groups of figures, indicated by dabs and dashes of dark ochre, are included towards the bottom right. Certainly this touristic site provides a more populous prospect than the working coastal scenes featured in the rest of the sketchbook with their lone fishermen, redundant fortifications, and deserted beaches.
1
J. Brunet, New Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 3rd ed., Boulogne 1840, p.28.
2
Ibid., pp.83–6.
Verso:
Blank, except for some patches of ochre watercolour on the top left edges.

John Chu
November 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

Explore

You might like