Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Waterfront at Huy, Looking Upstream to the Bridge, Church of Notre-Dame and the Citadel, with Bargemen Working and Resting on the Quay; The Citadel, Church and Bridge at Huy, Looking Upstream


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVII 2 a

Display caption

Turner used this sketchbook for about a week of his five-week tour of 1824, chiefly for more detailed and careful sketches of the Meuse than those he was simultaneously making in no.37. On ff.2v-3r he drew two separate sketches of Huy, placing the emphasis on entirely different elements. On f.2v his interest lay with the bargemen and their cargo, while the larger sketch is a well-composed portrait of Huy's fine collegiate church, eighteenth-century bridge and brand new fort built in terraces on a rocky spur above the town by English engineers for the Dutch government between 1818 and 1824.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

The foreground of this sketch of the Belgian city of Huy is bustling with activity, and is peopled with tradesmen, fishermen, bargemen, and quayside workers who converse, exchange, and toil at the Quay Dautrebande on the Meuse. Huy had for centuries been a commercial and artisanal hub, noted for its cloth-making and woodworking industries, smelting works, and tanneries.1 These economies were contingent on the transport links provided by the Meuse, one of Europe’s major rivers and the means by which wares could be imported and exported. In this sketch, Turner makes note of one particular trade in ‘Pan Tiles’, inscribed at bottom left to mark out the cargo of one of the barges.
Here Turner shows attentiveness to daily life and labour and an interest in recording what exists in lively animation beyond the city’s celebrated historic landmarks. One of these monuments, the citadel, is visible on the other side of the bridge and is rendered in profile with cursory line. The proportions of the citadel and its impregnable, perpendicular angularity bring to mind the journalist and author Dudley Costello’s observation that the fortress seemed ‘suspended above the cathedral, as if to threaten it with instant ruin’.2
The remaining third of the page, closest to the gutter of the book, is roughly squared off with a single line. The view within is a continuation of that shown on Tate D20088; Turner Bequest CCXVII 3, a detailed recording of the cathedral and citadel at Huy.
For other views of Huy in this sketchbook see Tate D20089–D20093, D20109–D20110; Turner Bequest CCXVII 3a–6a, 16–17. See also the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook of the same date (Tate D19622–D19635; Turner Bequest CCXVI 36–43) and the Brussels up to Mannheim sketchbook of 1833 (Tate D29653, D29656–D29659, D29661–D29662, D29768, D29771; Turner Bequest 29, 30a–32, 33–33a, 90, 91a). Later drawings include: Tate D28048, D28053, D28057, D28067, D28096, D28131–D28137, D28139–D28143, D28147, D28149; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 4, 6a, 8a, 13a, 28a, 47a–50a, 51a–53a, 56a, 57a. There are also a number of colour sketches in gouache with watercolour and pen and ink produced on blue paper dated around 1839 (Tate D20221, D20222, D20226, D20268, D20288; Turner Bequest CCXX N, O, S; CCXXII I, CCXXIII C).
‘Huy’, Eupedia, accessed 6 January 2014,
Dudley Costello, A tour through the valley of the Meuse: with the legends of the Walloon country and the Ardennes, London 1846, p.102.

Alice Rylance-Watson
January 2014

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