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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Huy from the South-East: Bird's-Eye View c.1839

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Huy from the South-East: Bird’s-Eye View c.1839
Turner Bequest CCXX S
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on blue wove paper, 139 x 191 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCXX S’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This gouache shows Huy from an elevated south-easterly perspective. It is broadly based on a rough pencil drawing in the Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28057; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 8 a). The viewpoint, as Cecilia Powell notes, is much higher than Tate D20221; Turner Bequest CCXX N, so much so that the citadel of Huy now appears below the horizon line.1
Owing to this view’s bird’s-eye and wide-angle perspective, the citadel’s multipart network of casemates, chambers, towers, ramparts and galleries appears all the more sprawling and impenetrable. As a ‘great object of contention’ and strategic importance, the contemporary travel writer Bartholomew Stritch explains that the citadel was besieged ‘numberless times during the civil wars’ until it was restored and enlarged in 1818 during the Dutch occupation.2 A ‘great portion’ of it was ‘hewn out of... solid rock’, continues Stritch, and its ‘towering walls of massive masonry’ were ‘superadded to the precipices upon which it stands to render it impregnable’.3
Situated at the foot of the citadel’s ridge is the Gothic Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, highlighted with a smudge of white gouache. Huy’s other churches and buildings are summarily penned in with black ink, while brown ink is used to sketch the shrubbery and rocky outcrops of the surrounding hillside. The colouring is rather muted now owing to its overexposure to sunlight. To this cataloguer’s eye, the picture is comprised of predominantly pale grey, green, yellow and orange tones applied in thin and translucent washes.
For other of Turner’s 1839 gouaches of Huy see Tate D20222, D20268, D20288; Turner Bequest CCXX O, CCXXII X, CCXXIII C.
Powell 1991, p.154 no.88.
Bartholomew Stritch, The Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine; or, A six weeks' tour through the finest river scenery in Europe, by B.S., London 1845, p.25; and ‘Fort’, Huy, accessed June 2013, http://www.huy.be/espace-loisirs/tourisme-evenements/fort-et-memorial
Stritch 1845, p.25.
There are rough chalk markings running across the centre of the page and some markings in dark grey watercolour at top right and top centre; ‘8a’ is inscribed at the top and towards left. ‘CCXX–S’ is stamped in black at bottom right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Huy from the South-East: Bird’s-Eye View c.1839 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-huy-from-the-south-east-birds-eye-view-r1150947, accessed 05 December 2021.