Joseph Mallord William Turner

The ‘Promenade de Sept-Heures’ at Spa


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 188

Catalogue entry

Here Turner depicts the genteel inhabitants and visitors of the resort town of Spa, Belgium. They are seen leisurely strolling down a promenade lined with lofty elm trees in the Parc de Sept-Heures. The towering elms, rendered in long, tapering strokes of watercolour and fine pen and black ink, lend the promenade, as Cecilia Powell writes, a sense of ‘elegance and an almost architectural grandeur’.1 The colouring is fittingly subtle for a warm afternoon evening: comprised of washes of pale blue, soft yellow and muted brown-mauve. The figures, scattered amongst the promenade, are captured in quick pen and ink line and those in the foreground are highlighted in opaque white gouache.
The composition is derived from a very rough sketch in the Spa, Dinant and Namur sketchbook (Tate D28109; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 35 a). The promenade and Place Royale is pictured again on the following folio (Tate D28110; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 36), that pencil sketch also forming the basis of a further gouache of the Place Royale and entrance to the promenade (Tate D24788; Turner Bequest CCLIX 223).
Powell 1991, p.171 no.118.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLIX 188’ at centre towards right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

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