This is the first in a series of four intricate studies of Dinant, a Belgian town located on the Meuse thirty kilometres south of Namur (for the others see Tate D20110–D20113; Turner Bequest CCXVII 17–19). Turner’s rendering of the scene here is exactly as the journalist and author Dudley Costello described: ‘the situation of Dinant is in the highest degree picturesque... Below the bridge the houses are built close to the river, and above it are separated only by a long quay, planted with trees, which serves for recreation as well as commerce’.1 Costello also writes of a ‘spacious market place’ at the foot of the bridge next to the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, which is shown here with its strikingly bulbous onion-domed spire and lantern.2 The viewer will notice that this shape is echoed, albeit in rather squatter proportions, in the spire of the Porte Saint-Martin, a city gate, at far right. Turner has inscribed what appear to be notes on colours (‘white’ and ‘yellow’) close to the bottom right of the church and within one of the houses at the foot of the bridge.
Dinant is ‘backed by a steep ridge’, a rock ‘wild and bare’ surmounted by a citadel, which is recorded here in this drawing.3 The ‘formidable fortress’, as Costello calls it, was constructed in the twelfth century and remodelled by the French and Dutch. It rises perpendicularly from the plateau commanding ‘all the approaches to the town’ in a manner which ‘appears to laugh a siege to scorn’.4
For other 1824 drawings of Dinant, see those in the Rivers Meuse and Moselle (Tate D19554, D19559, D19654–D19657, D19659, D19662–D19663; Turner Bequest CCXVI 2, 4a, 52a–54, 55, 56a–57). For later views, particularly sketches taken in 1839, see Tate D28094, D28122, D28125, D28142, D28147, D28153, D28155–D28158, D28160–D28166, D41091; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 27a, 42a, 44a, 53, 56a, 59a, 60a–62a, 63a–66a. There is also a series of colour drawings executed in gouache and watercolour: Tate D20227, D20228, D24724, D28984; Turner Bequest CCXX T, U; CCLIX 159, CCXCII 37.
Dudley Costello, A tour through the valley of the Meuse: with the legends of the Walloon country and the Ardennes, London 1846, pp.207–8.
Ibid; see also ‘The Citadel’s History’, La Citadelle Dinant, accessed 23 January 2014, http://www
.citadellededinant .be /en /tourism -history