Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Castle and Basilica at Boulogne


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 x 326 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 22

Catalogue entry

Here Turner has homed in upon the north-eastern corner of Boulogne’s haute ville (literally, ‘high town’). To the left can be seen the horseshoe-shaped bulk of the town chateau and, to the right, the incomplete dome of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Boulogne.1 This is the most detailed account of the latter structure in the sketchbook, with rows of dashes and little curves jotted down to evoke its columns, arches, and perhaps even the masons’ scaffolding.2
This sketch is inverted in relation to the sketchbook’s foliation. The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘22’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLVIII 22’ at the bottom right (see Technical notes); there is a short dash of pencil towards the centre left, together with small patches of transferred watercolour from folio 20 verso opposite (D35430; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 21v).
See Frédéric Debussche, Architecture de XIXe siècle à Boulogne-sur-Mer, Arras 2004, pp.4–13.
Debussche 2004, pp.4–13.
Technical notes:
Turner worked on this sketchbook from two directions, with each sequence of drawings inverted in relation to the other. The first sequence in the present foliation appears mainly on the recto of each leaf, and the second mainly on the verso. After the volume entered the national collection John Ruskin numbered the each folio on the bottom right of each recto in a single sequence, irrespective of the side of the page upon which the drawing appeared. As a consequence, on many of the sketches in the second half of the book (including this one), Ruskin’s red ink number and the subsequent stamped Turner Bequest number appear on the other side of the leaf, and inverted in relation to the direction of the drawing. Finberg added a further complication by deviating from his earlier convention of adding the suffix ‘a’ to the page number in such cases to signify a verso.1

John Chu
November 2013

A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.II, p.1168.

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