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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner La Haye Sainte, Waterloo, from the North with La Belle Alliance in the Distance ?1817

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
La Haye Sainte, Waterloo, from the North with La Belle Alliance in the Distance ?1817
Turner Bequest CLIV a 1
Pen and pen and ink on white wove paper, 89 x 112 mm
?Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘1’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLIV (a) – 1’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This drawing, now very faint, shows isolated roofs and chimneys towards the top right and a rough horizon line to their left. The buildings towards the bottom correspond with those in a pencil sketch of La Haye Sainte farmhouse from the north among those made on Turner’s 1817 visit to the 1815 battlefield of Waterloo (now in Belgium), the decisive victory of the Napoleonic Wars, in the Waterloo and Rhine sketchbook (Tate D12739; Turner Bequest CLX 20a). Another faint ink drawing of La Haye Sainte appears on folio 2 recto (D12126). It is unclear whether Turner made these two ink drawings at the site, or (perhaps more likely as he almost exclusively used pencil when travelling) reprised the compositions here from the Waterloo and Rhine drawings.
There is further Waterloo-related material in the present sketchbook: see folios 59 recto, 66 recto, 67 recto and verso, 78 verso (D12204, D12215, D12217, D12218, D12239; CLIV a 58, 65, 66, 66a, 77a). The immediate outcomes of Turner’s battlefield tour were the watercolour The Field of Waterloo of about 1817 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)1 and the large oil painting of the same name exhibited in 1818 (Tate N00500),2 both showing the aftermath with their foregrounds strewn with the dead. The Waterloo and Rhine sketch with which the present page may be compared informed the background of the watercolour version, which is listed in Turner’s notes on folio 59 recto (D12204; CLIV a 58).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.356 no.494, reproduced.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.104–5 no.138, pl.141 (colour).
Technical notes:
The ink is now a very pale brown, having presumably faded considerably. The central portion of the right-hand edge has been reinforced with a thin paper patch to make good the irregular loss evident from the verso (D12125). This was apparently caused by rubbing against the clasp of the original cover (see the Introduction to the sketchbook), similarly affecting the leaves as far as folio 6 (the recto of which is D12132), although these subsequent pages have not been repaired. A diagonal crease at the top right corner and short tears to the top edge beside it have been reinforced.
There is a pale brown stain radiating from the centre of the right-hand edge, again seemingly caused by proximity to the original clasp.
There appears to be a number ‘1’ next to the stamped figure at the bottom right, in accordance with John Ruskin’s usual practice of foliating Turner’s sketchbooks, but it is very faint. There are clearer numbers on most of the later pages (see the Introduction to the sketchbook).

Matthew Imms
September 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘La Haye Sainte, Waterloo, from the North with La Belle Alliance in the Distance ?1817 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-la-haye-sainte-waterloo-from-the-north-with-la-belle-r1147540, accessed 24 October 2021.