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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Caudebec-en-Caux c.1832

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Caudebec-en-Caux c.1832
Turner Bequest CCLIX 105
Gouache and watercolour on blue paper, 138 x 190 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom left
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
By James B. Allen in 1833, published in 1834.
In this watercolour, Turner depicts a meander of the River Seine at the town of Caudebec-en-Caux in northern France. The Church of Notre-Dame at Caudebec is shown clearly at bottom right where its two towers are conveyed in contrasting light and dark tones. In the foreground a line of people make their way up the slope from the river and into the cemetery on the left perched high above the river. At far left the black figures of the funeral procession are silhouetted against the white graveyard wall. The terracotta tones of the graveyard wall buildings contrast with the vivid green tones of the lush riverbanks opposite. Turner utilises the blue background paper and blue watercolour wash with great subtlety to convey the water of the river below.
Tall, graceful, white sailing boats are contrasted with a black steamer tug boat further back along the river, a juxtaposition with Turner employed on several occasions, most famously in his renowned painting, The Fighting ‘Temeraire’, exhibited in 1839 (Turner Bequest, National Gallery, London).1 Art historian Judy Egerton notes that Turner greatly exaggerates the height of the river bank under which the tug passes to emphasise the power generated by the diminutive vessel.2 The beginning of new technology suggested by the steamer contrasts with the end of a life as suggested by the funeral and graveyard.
The watercolour is based on pencil sketches (Tate D23550–D23553; Turner Bequest CCLII 17–18a)3 in Turner’s Guernsey sketchbook4 (also used in other locations),5 believed to date from 1832. As art historian Ian Warrell notes, none of these sketches clearly indicate the graveyard.6 Warrell further points out that, in the watercolour, Turner has moved the bell tower of the Church of Notre-Dame from the south side of the church (as recorded in D23550) to the west end.7
An engraving was made from this watercolour by James B. Allen in 1833, as Caudebec (Tate impressions T05601 and T06231) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1834.8 The evening moon has been emphasised in the engraving, as has the trail of steam, rather than the body, of the tug.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.229–31 no.377, pl.381 (colour).
Egerton 1995, p.62.
Wilton 1979, p.413.
Ibid.; Warrell 1993, p.300.
Warrell 1993, p.300.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.86.
Blank, except for inscription ‘10’ ‘Caudebec’ in grey gouache in the upper left of the sheet, and below this ‘13’ in grey gouache or dark pencil, both probably made by Turner. At the centre of the sheet are inscriptions in brown gouache, written horizontally, which appear to read ‘5’, ‘11’, ‘6’, ‘6’, and ‘11’. ‘Wallis’ has been written in black ink at in the bottom right corner of the sheet. At centre left there appears to be an inscription in chalk but it is illegible. The centre is stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram. The number ‘CCLIX 102’ is stamped in black under this and also written in pencil at centre bottom. There is brownish staining at bottom right.

Caroline South
November 2017

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Caudebec-en-Caux c.1832 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2017, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2019, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-caudebec-en-caux-r1195797, accessed 27 June 2022.