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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Harfleur ?1829

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
Harfleur ?1829
Turner Bequest CCLIII 1
Pencil on pale cream laid paper, 156 x 107 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘1’ top left upside down
Stamped in black ‘CCLIII – 1’ top left upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The page contains three separate horizontal sketches at the top, centre and bottom, drawn with the page turned upside down. The sketches continue to the right onto the inside of the front cover opposite (D41080). Finberg suggested that the sketches might be of the town of Harfleur,1 and this location has been confirmed.2 The top and centre sketches depict a tower, from its shape identifiable as that of the Church of Saint-Martin, in Harfleur (for further information on the church, see under folio 2 verso, D23702).
Harfleur is a town in northern France, in the Normandy region, on the estuary of the River Seine. It was the principal seaport in north-western France until the nearby port of Le Havre was built in the sixteenth century. Harfleur was besieged by the English under Henry V in 1415; its name is of Viking origin, and means ‘the high port’, in contrast to the nearby town of Honfleur, on the opposite bank of the Seine, meaning ‘the low port’.3
Turner conveys two street-views, in the top and centre sketches, in each case concentrating on the shape of the church and the buildings immediately below and to the right of it, respectively. The bottom sketch is less distinct but indicates the church, from a greater distance, at far right.

Caroline South
May 2017

Finberg 1909, II, p.768.
?Ian Warrell, ‘Turner on the Seine: Topographical Index’, c.1999, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain (printout in copy of Ian Warrell, Turner on the Seine, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999), p.3.
‘Les origines: de la préhistoire aux Vikings’, www.harfleur.fr, accessed 10 February 2017, http://www.harfleur.fr/spip.php?article3.

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Harfleur ?1829 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 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-harfleur-r1195605, accessed 22 May 2024.