Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Haute Ville 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 21 v

Catalogue entry

This view of Boulogne’s haute ville (literally, ‘high town’) from the north-east is the most highly worked sketch on that subject in the volume. Glazes of blue, ochre, and rose grow successively finer as they ascend the hill, finally forming into delicate, overlapping rows of dots on the skyline.
Surmounting the high ground can be seen the Basilique Notre-Dame de Boulogne, at that time undergoing reconstruction subsequent to its destruction during the Revolutionary era.1 The tower that appears to rise above the bulk of the building is in fact the columned drum of the unfinished dome. Also discernible to the left of the basilica is the fortified chateau with its gables and horseshoe-shaped stone walls.2
This sketch is inverted in relation to the sketchbook’s foliation (see Technical notes).
See Frédéric Debussche, Architecture de XIXe siècle à Boulogne-sur-Mer, Arras 2004, pp.4–13.
See Pierre Boissé (ed.), Boulogne-sur-mer: le château et la haute-ville, Pas-de-Calais, Paris c.1988.
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 present drawing. Because a slight continuation from another page has been subsequently noticed on the recto in this instance (D35429; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 21), the present work has been given the pseudo-Turner Bequest number ‘CCCLVIII 21v’.

John Chu
November 2013

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