J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Dieppe, Rouen and Paris sketchbook 1821

D24500–D24565; D41261 complete group
Turner Bequest CCLVIII
Sketchbook bound in red leather with a gold border on the front and back covers and pencil holders along the top and bottom edges. The front cover is stamped in black ‘CCLVIII’ at the top right.
34 leaves of white wove paper, watermarked ‘J. Whatman, Turkey Mills, 1819’
Approximate paper size 118 x 123 mm
Stamped in black by the bookseller ‘SMITH WARNER & CO 211 PICADILLY’ top left.
Inscribed with the executors’ endorsement on the inside front cover, by George Jones in black ink ‘No.143 | [signed] Geo Jones’ top left, and initialled in pencil beneath by Charles Lock Eastlake ‘C.L.E.’ and John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’.
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLVIII’ top centre.
Stamped in black ‘CCLVIII’ top left.
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketchbook was purchased in London from the stationers Smith Warner & Co. at No.211 Piccadilly.1 Turner numbered it ‘54’ in the stock-list he made of his sketchbooks in 1824, and titled it ‘Rouen’ (for views of the city, see Tate D24500; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1), although Dieppe (see Tate D24501; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1v) is in fact a more prominent subject, prompting Finberg to rename it Dieppe, Rouen and Paris.2 The original order was lost when John Ruskin broke it up (without numbering the pages as he sometimes did) in order to display some of the pages (see Technical note below). As a result any clues that the original order of sketches may have provided about Turner’s journey through northern France have been lost so that it is not possible to ascertain his direction of travel from the book. A close study and comparison of his sketches, however, has made it possible for Ian Warrell to suggest a very plausible reconstruction of his journey. Turner left England at Brighton, landing at Dieppe from where he travelled by road to Rouen and onto Paris. He returned to Rouen to begin a journey along the Seine to its estuary at Le Havre, before returning north by road to Calais via Abbeville. See the Tour of Northern France, 1821 Tour Introduction.
In addition to the present sketchbook, Turner’s tour was recorded in the Paris, Seine and Dieppe sketchbook (Tate D18525–D18568; D18571–D18590; D40975–D40977; Turner Bequest CCXI complete sketchbook). The tour has been dated to the autumn of 1821, in part because of the sketches of Rouen Cathedral in this book, that show the old spire which was destroyed on 15 September 1822 (for example Tate D24511; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 6a).
Some of the finest sketches in this book are the careful architectural studies of the spectacular Rouen Cathedral. Ian Warrell has suggested that a contemporary antiquarian interest in the Gothic architecture of the city among Turner’s contemporaries was a particular spur to the artist.3 He also made several sketches of the city from St Catherine’s Hill, and from the banks of the Seine. A growing interest in Normandy scenery among British artists and travellers, many of whom exhibited or published views of the region by 1821, may also have piqued his interest in this part of France, its landscape, architecture and people.
At Paris Turner made panoramic surveys of the capital from Montmartre and Père-Lachaise (Tate D24553 and D24554; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 28, 28a), though very few detailed sketches in the city centre. The Louvre, however, provided the artist, as it had done in 1802, with the opportunity to study from the Old Masters, and Turner paid particular attention to the paintings of his favourite Claude Lorrain (Tate D24536; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19a).4 He also seems to have taken a particular interest at this time in the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), more of which he may have been able to see in private collections. These paintings seem to have influenced some of the on-the-spot landscape sketches that Turner made on this tour (Tate D24535; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19).5 Near Paris Turner was also struck by Saint-Cloud, where he made a series of views looking along the Seine and back towards the city (Tate D24505; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 3a). Warrell has compared these to Turner’s depictions of the Thames near Richmond which similarly held poetic and classical connotations for the artist.6 He also visited Arcueil where he sketched a Roman aqueduct that inspired later oil studies (Tate D24525; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 13a).
There are sketches of various sites on the banks of the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre, often crammed four or more to the page. This journey prepared Turner for several later return visits to the river in preparation for the Wandering by the Seine volume of Turner’s Annual Tour, 1833–5.7 Some of the slight sketches of the river were called upon by Turner when he was preparing this volume.
In evidence throughout the tour is an interest in the people he saw, their clothing and the work they performed. Turner made dozens of figure studies throughout the sketchbook, providing him with a repository of figures to call upon for future watercolours and paintings with French subjects; (see Tate D24503; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 2v).
Although this tour of northern France was not made in relation to any particular project, Turner nevertheless drew on some of these sketches for subsequent watercolours and oil paintings. In addition to views on or near the Seine which Turner referred to for his watercolours for Wanderings by the Seine, several of the sketches in this book served as the basis for oil sketches or unfinished works in oil and related watercolours. Sketches of the aqueduct at Arcueil (Tate D24525; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 13a) were utilised for several oil studies of Claudian landscape compositions (Tate N03387, N02990, N02992); of Dieppe (Tate D24515, D24524, D24530 and D24560; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 8a, 13, 16, 32) for an oil (Tate N03385) and related watercolour (Tate D20209; Turner Bequest CCXX C); of the banks of the Seine at Rouen (Tate D24532 and D24549; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 17, 26) for two unfinished oils of Rouen from the Left Bank (Tate N03384 and N03383); and of a boat at Rouen (Tate D24582; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 15) for an oil sketch (Tate N03386) and related watercolour (Tate D24727; Turner Bequest CCLIX 182).
The Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook (Tate D20558–D20595; Turner Bequest CCXXV complete sketchbook) was also bought at Smith Warner & Co., although it has a blue-green cover rather than a red one, and was not used by Turner until later in the 1820s. (Warrell 1999, pp.20 and 252 note.28).
Finberg 1909, II, p.785; Warrell 1999, pp.20, 252 no.26.
John Crome, George Vincent, Henry Edridge, Captain Batty, and John Sell Cotman had all visited the region a few years earlier. (Warrell 1999, p.19, see also pp.62–5).
For Turner’s interest in Claude during this visit see: Jerrold Ziff, ‘Copies of Claude’s Paintings in the Sketch Books of J.M.W. Turner’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 6 pér., LXV, 1965, pp.51–63; Michael Kitson, ‘Turner and Claude’, in Maurice Guillaud, Nicholas Alfrey, Andrew Wilton and others, Turner in France: Watercolours, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, Sketchbooks, exhibition catalogue, Centre Culturel du Marais, Paris 1981, pp.578–97; Michael Kitson, ‘Turner and Claude’, Turner Studies, vol.2, no.2, Winter 1983, pp.2–15; Warrell 1999, pp.21–2, 252 notes 13, 30; Kathleen Nicholson ‘Turner, Claude and the Essence of Landscape’, in David Solkin (ed.), Turner and the Masters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2009, pp.50, 226 note 30; Ian Warrell, Blandine Chavanne and Michael Kitson, Turner et le Lorrain, exhibition catalogue, Musée des beaux-arts, Nancy 2002
Selby Whittingham, ‘What You Will; or some notes regarding the influence of Wateau on Turner and other British Artists (I)’, Turner Studies, vol.5, no.1, Summer 1985, pp.2–24, and part 2, Turner Studies, vol.5, no.2, Winter 1985, pp.28–48; and Warrell, 1999, pp.22, 252 notes 34 and 35.
Warrell 1999, p.21.
See Warrell 1999.

Thomas Ardill
March 2013

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How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Dieppe, Rouen and Paris sketchbook 1821’, sketchbook, March 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/dieppe-rouen-and-paris-sketchbook-r1146286, accessed 27 November 2021.