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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Houses on a Quay, Harfleur; the Tower of François I, Le Havre; Hillside View of Harfleur ?1829

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 4 Recto:
Houses on a Quay, Harfleur; the Tower of François I, Le Havre; Hillside View of Harfleur ?1829
Turner Bequest CCLIII 4
Pencil on pale cream laid paper, 156 x 107 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘[?Havre]’ centre right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘4’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLIII – 4’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The page contains three horizontal sketches, the bottom one of which has been drawn with the page turned upside down. Finberg recorded the page simply as ‘Houses on quay, &c.’1 but the location of Harfleur has been confirmed.2 The topmost sketch depicts a street-scene, with arches at left and centre, which appear to be bridges, such as those in the town, crossing a river or canal (for further information on Harfleur, see under folio 1 recto, D23699). It is possible that this sketch shows the same bridge from two different angles, rather than a single street-view.
The outline of the building depicted on the right suggests a church, possibly Saint-Martin, although in this sketch Turner does not single out the church’s tower as he does in his various other sketches which include it, for example folios 1 recto and verso and 3 verso (D23699, D23700, D23704). (For further information on the church, see under folio 2 verso; D23702). A few loose strokes of the sketch continue to the left onto folio 3 verso opposite (D23704). A faint thumbprint appears towards the left of the sketch.
The central sketch appears to be of the Tower of François I at Le Havre. The location of Le Havre has been confirmed.3 Turner records details of the building’s shape, crenellation, and studded walls. Turner’s later watercolour Le Havre: Tour de François Ier, c.1832 (Tate D24699, Turner Bequest CCLIX 134),4 depicts the same building from a slightly different angle; the watercolour was engraved for Turner’s Annual Tour Wanderings by the Seine, 1834 (Tate impression: T04699). (For further information on the tower, see under folio 7 verso; D23712.) There is possibly some faint text on the right of this sketch, which could read ‘Havre’. Some loose strokes of the sketch also continue onto the opposite page (D23704).
The bottom sketch traces buildings along the top and down the edge of high, rocky ground trailing down to lower ground on the right, over which the outline of a church tower appears. The tower has the shape of the Church of Saint-Martin in Harfleur. One building within the scene continues onto folio 3 verso opposite (D23704).

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.
Wilton1979, p.412 no.953, reproduced.

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Houses on a Quay, Harfleur; the Tower of François I, Le Havre; Hillside View of 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-houses-on-a-quay-harfleur-the-tower-of-francois-i-le-havre-r1195611, accessed 22 May 2024.