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Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 139 × 194 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 129

Display caption

The weather plays an important part in many of Turner's views on the River Seine, adding drama and meaning to the viewpoints chosen. Often his gouache drawings on blue paper bear only the most generalised idea of an effect, which was then refined and developed during the engraving process. In this view of Vernon, for example, the sky has been almost totally revised by J.T.Willmore, who engraved the plate under Turner's supervision. A comparison between the sky in the drawing and the engraving of the same subject shows that the fluffy lines of cloud are merely suggested in the watercolour, while they are given much more definite form in the print.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

By J.T. Willmore in 1834, published in 1835.
In this watercolour, Turner presents a tranquil view over the old multi-arched bridge stretching across the river Seine at the town of Vernon, located in northern France, approximately midway between the cities of Rouen and Paris (and a few miles from Claude Monet’s later gardens at Giverny). The structures on the bridge are mills. The bridge is depicted from the west; two towers of the Château des Tourelles castle are just visible on the far left. Turner conveys quiet activity. Under a softly glowing, delicately blue sky, he depicts figures on the riverbank in the foreground, sitting, standing or engaged in other actions whilst coaches pass along the road stretching back at far right. He renders the arched gateway, tower and church behind in mellow shades of mauve in gentle contrast to the warm yellow tones of the right foreground below.
The watercolour is based on a preliminary pen and ink sketch, ?1827–9 (Tate D24860; Turner Bequest CCLX 24).1
An engraving was made of this watercolour by J.T. Willmore in 1834, as Vernon (Tate impressions T04710 and T06247) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1835.2 The soft sky of the watercolour has been worked into a more dramatic effect in the engraving, with sunlight picking out the edges of clouds and points on the water.
There are related inscriptions on the verso (D40111).

Caroline South
November 2017

Warrell 1999, p.276.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1835, opposite p.68.

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