Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bridge at Villeneuve, and the Tour Colin, Val d’Aosta


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 282 × 211 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXIV 5

Catalogue entry

For Turner’s visit to the Val d’Aosta in 1802 see Introduction to the sketchbook.
Turner’s label for this drawing is inscribed ‘La Pont cachai a Ville Neuve de Aoust’ [sic]. The subject is the ancient bridge across the River Doire, with its broken arch, and behind it the fortified Tour Colin. On the right, in shade, is the steep slope rising up to the Château d’Argent although the castle itself is out of view. The 1802 drawing served as the basis of two watercolours, one signed and dated 1813 and first recorded in the collection of John Ruskin (private collection)1 and the second made c.1818–19 (British Museum, London).2 Of these the earlier is the closest to the drawing while the later version is more elaborate and considerably dramatised, with the bridge heightened and extended to two complete arches and the castle restored in picturesque medieval style and set on a steeper hill. Ruskin was uncertain of the exact location depicted in his watercolour while the other has sometimes been mistaken for the Italian town of Narni, also famous for a ruined Roman bridge. Already in the drawing, Turner has responded to the classical feeling and associations of the landscape which he emphasised in the later watercolours.
For other drawings of Château d’Argent and Villeneuve from this sketchbook see D04500; Turner Bequest LXXIV 8 and D04561; Turner Bequest LXXIV 68. Turner made more drawings around Villeneuve in 1836.
Wilton 1979, p.344 no.397.
Ibid., p.345 no.403.
Blank, inscribed perhaps by a later hand in pencil ‘4’ with a circle

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

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