Turner worked gouache and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the landscape around Saint-Cloud, located some seven miles west of central Paris on the banks of the Seine. At the left-hand edge of the sheet can be seen the façade of the now-lost royal palace of Saint-Cloud while, down in the valley, the long, arched bridge traverses the river. The disk of white paint in the sky, reflected beneath the bridge, suggests a nocturnal or sunset scene. Pencil drawings of these riverside landmarks recur frequently in the Seine and Paris sketchbook of a similar date, and presumably contributed to the conception of this colour study. For lists of these sketchbook drawings, see the entry for Tate D23914 (Turner Bequest CCLIV 17a). For the finished watercolours of Saint-Cloud which Turner worked up with a view to engraved reproduction around this time, see Tate D24688 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 123), D24689 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 124), and D24697 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 132). All this activity culminated in three engravings in the 1835 volume of Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France), and a further engraved illustration for a new edition of Walter Scott’s Life of Napoleon Buonaparte (1834–36); see Tate impressions T04739, T05618, T05619, and T05620.
The painted surface has suffered considerable losses exposing extensive patches of blue paper, especially in the sky. A water stain across the top half of the verso presumably accounts for this damage.
The centre of the sheet is inscribed in pencil with the notes ‘26’ and ‘D24569’. ‘106’ is inscribed at the centre of the bottom edge of the sheet, also in pencil. The bottom right-hand corner bears the Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLIX – 4’ stamped in black.