Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views in Rouen: Quayside; Rouen from St Catherine’s Hill; Banks of the Seine; Group of Boats on the Seine


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 123 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1

Catalogue entry

This rather sorry-looking first page of the sketchbook, yellowed and stained owing to the long exposure to light from having been chosen by Ruskin for exhibition at the National Gallery, contains four sketches of Rouen. Its main historical interest is that the sketch at the bottom right of the page, though relatively slight, formed the basis of Turner’s watercolour design of Rouen from Mont Ste-Catherine, 1832 (private collection) for Turner’s Annual Tour, 1834: Wanderings by the Seine (Tate T04705).1 The view is of Rouen with the towers of the cathedral in the distance at the top of the image and, as Finberg noted, ‘the posts of the gateway on the left, the diligence in the road, the village and poplars, will all be found indicated in the little pencil drawing’.2 Ian Warrell has noted that a sketch across folios 23 verso and 30 (Tate D24544, D24557; CCLVIII 23a, 30) (the panoramic sketch has been divided by the rebinding of this sketchbook) provides a more detailed preparatory sketch;3 see also folio 5 verso (Tate D24509; Turner Bequest).
The sketch at the top right of the page depicts the quayside at Rouen from the right bank beneath St Catherine’s Hill. With the sketchbook turned to the right are two further sketches. At the head of the page is a view along a bank of the Seine, presumably from somewhere near St Catherine’s Hill. Beneath this is a sketch of three or four boats at sail with figures aboard.4
Further sketches made at Rouen are scatted throughout the sketchbook (jumbled up by the rebinding of this sketchbook after it was broken up by John Ruskin): folios 5 verso, 6 verso–7, 9, 10–11 verso, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22–24, 26, 29, and 30–31 (Tate D24509–D24512, D24516, D24518–D24521, D24528, D24532, D24535, D24539, D24541–D24545, D24549, D24555, D24557–D23559; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 5a, 6a–7, 9, 10–11a, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22–24, 26, 29, and 30–31).
Identified by John Ruskin, Cook and Wdderburn 1904, pp.273, 635.
Finberg 1909, II, p.786, CCLVIII 1.
Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.275 under no.132.
Ian Warrell, Turner catalogue files, Tate, CCLVIII 1.
Technical notes:
The page was selected by John Ruskin for exhibition at the National Gallery and has yellowed as a result; the boarder has remained white where it was covered by a mount. Exposure has also caused several foxing stains. There are glue marks in the four corners and a right-angle drawn in one corner to mark the position of the mount on the verso: folio 1 verso (Tate D24501; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1v).

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

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