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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Angers from the River Maine c.1829

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Angers from the River Maine c.1829
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 13
Gouache and watercolour on white wove paper, 302 x 496 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 13’ bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘13’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This loose ‘colour beginning’ shows round towers towards the right and a pale yellow spire above water beyond, in evening light which also illuminates a rising full moon (reserved as a bright disk of white paper). It has been identified as a view of Angers on the River Maine. Nicholas Alfrey first suggested the setting, albeit noting that ‘studies of Angers on blue paper are not obviously related to it’ (Tate D24853, D24918–D24920; Turner Bequest CCLX, 17, 82–84), and proposed its possible function in the development of a design to be engraved for the annual Keepsake volumes to which Turner contributed from 1828;1 see the Introduction to this section.
As alternatives, Eric Shanes tentatively linked the subject to the River Thames beside the Tower at the Pool of London or Bristol Harbour with St Mary Redcliffe’s Church, possibly for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales2 (see the ‘England and Wales Colour Studies c.1825–39’ section of this catalogue). However, Ian Warrell has followed Alfrey’s identification, making a specific link to the upper of three studies of Angers in the 1826 Nantes, Angers and Saumur sketchbook (Tate D23217; Turner Bequest CCXLVIII 34a), one of its many pencil drawings recording the city; the relevant view shows ‘the château and the cathedral spires’.3
The 1826 sketch shows the fortress diagonally across the river to the east, with the Pont de Verdun on the left, and the spires shown a little taller and more prominent in relation to the buildings along the river than they appear from the quays at about the point where the Pont de la Basse-Chaîne was subsequently built. Warrell has noted that, assuming this connection is correct, ‘Turner has attempted to compress the information in his source material’, and the idea appears to have been abandoned, as no completed version is known.4
Alfrey 1981, p.527.
See Shanes 1997, pp.26, 95, 99.
Warrell 1997, p.235; see also p.225.
Ibid., p.185.
Blank; laid down on white wove paper, closely trimmed to edges; verso of backing sheet stamped with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 13’ towards bottom left, and inscribed in pencil ‘AB [...]’ bottom right, partly obscured by mount.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Angers from the River Maine c.1829 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2017, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, July 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-angers-from-the-river-maine-r1186603, accessed 26 May 2024.