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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Honfleur c.1832

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Honfleur c.1832
Turner Bequest CCLIX 135
Gouache and watercolour on blue paper, 140 x 191 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLIX – 135’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
By John Cousen in 1833, published in 1834.
In this watercolour, Turner presents an intricate view over the town of Honfleur in northern France. The town is laid out with evocative clarity, under a dramatic sky. The distinctive Lieutenancy building with its towered gateway is depicted just left of centre, with the two-towered Church of Saint-Catherine behind. Turner includes a lighthouse on the quay in the right foreground and another lighthouse in the mid-ground. A group of sailboats nestles in the right corner on the calm waters.
There does not appear to be a preliminary pencil sketch showing this viewpoint although art historian Ian Warrell notes there is a related watercolour sketch (Tate D24747, Turner Bequest CCLIX 182).1
An engraving was made from the watercolour by John Cousen in 1833, as Honfleur (Turner impression T04707, T05611 T06243 and T06244) for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1834.2 The dark tones of the church and of the trees at lower left appear more prominent in the engraving. The buildings of the town, in particular the row of buildings stretching from centre left towards the centre of the sheet, are conveyed in lesser detail in the engraving than in the watercolour. A small boat has also been added into the scene at lower right, just under the lighthouse.
Warrell 1999, p.273.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.255.
Blank, except for an inscription ‘6’ in dark pencil or grey gouache in the upper left corner of the sheet, probably made by Turner. Above this, at the top right corner ‘Honfleur No 2’ has been written in pencil, possibly also by Turner. There appear to be some faint illegible inscriptions in right of centre of the sheet. The lower centre of the sheet is stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram above the number ‘CCLIX – 135’, which is also written in pencil above the stamp.

Caroline South
November 2017

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Honfleur 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-honfleur-r1195809, accessed 26 January 2022.