Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Porte Saint-Denis, Paris


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 142 × 194 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 6

Display caption

An unfinished view, to which Turner has begun to add foreground details of busy street life. These indicate that he presumably intended to bring the subject to the same level of completion as his other Paris views on blue paper of the same period. The Porte St. Denis is a 17th century triumphal entrance to the centre of the city, in the Rue St. Denis.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner worked gouache and watercolour paints onto this sheet of blue paper to depict the seventeenth-century Porte Saint-Denis, located amidst the Parisian right-bank boulevards. The Porte Saint-Martin can also be made out in the background while, at street level, the bustle of the city is rendered in delicate strokes of ochre. Art historian Ian Warrell has identified two drawings in the Paris and Environs sketchbook of a similar date as the basis for this composition: see Tate D24249 (Turner Bequest CCLVII 42a) and D24494 (Turner Bequest CCLIII 167).1 The existence of the present colour study suggests that Turner considered the subject as an illustration for Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Loire and Seine (1833–5; later reissued as Rivers of France)2 although the Porte Saint-Denis did not make it into this publication in the event.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.272.
W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1908, vol.II, pp.264–76 nos.453–92.
The verso of this sheet is attached to the mount.

John Chu
August 2014

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