Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Seine at Paris and Rouen


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 26

Catalogue entry

This page contains five sketches on the Seine at Paris and Rouen.1 At the top of the page is a quick sketch of the flanks of the Louvre, with the Pont de la Concorde beyond. A figure in a boat in the foreground may be in the process of tying up his boat to the river bank. The sketch beneath looks east along the Seine from the Pont des Arts to the Pont Neuf with the Île de la Cité and Notre Dame Cathedral. For a list of Turner sketches of Paris in this sketchbook, see folio 3 verso (Tate D24505; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 3a).
Across the centre of the page are two sketches of boats. The first, inscribed ‘below at Rouen’, pays particular attention to a group of figures in distinctive Normandy hats, while the second depicts a moored boat with a gangplank connecting it to a riverbank, presumably near Rouen. There is a windmill on the hill above the river to the right. The bottom sketch depicts the left bank of the river with the Grand Cours in the Faubourg St Sever in the distance. The shore is crowded with boats and boating paraphernalia. Ian Warrell has suggested that this sketch may have provided the composition (though without the tower) of Turner’s oil sketch: Rouen; The Left Bank or Honfleur: The Tour Ronde, with Shipping beyond, ?1827–8 (Tate N03383).2 As it was more usual for Turner to begin sketching at the top of a page and work down, it is likely that the Paris views were made before those at Rouen, suggesting that the latter were made on his return to Rouen where he boarded a boat that took him along the Seine to Le Havre.3 For all of Turner’s sketches at Rouen, see folio 1 (Tate D24500; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1).

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Ian Warrell, Turner Catalogue Files, Tate, CCLVIII 26.
Warrell 1999, p.268 under no.54. The oil study was formerly catalogued as Fire and Stack?, 1828: Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.179 no.314.
Warrell 1999, p.253 note 50.

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