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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Le Chetif and the Mont Blanc Massif from below Courmayeur 1802

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 62 Verso:
Le Chetif and the Mont Blanc Massif from below Courmayeur 1802
Turner Bequest LXXIII 62a
Pencil, lightly touched with white chalk, and splashed with water on grey-buff laid paper, 138 x 215 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘below Courmayeur’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘LXXIII 62a’ bottom right, running vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
From Chamonix Turner circumnavigated Mont Blanc by the usual route of the day, climbing the Col du Bonhomme and the Col de la Seigne before descending to Courmayeur at the head of the Val d’Aosta. This took him from Savoy into Piedmont, though both were then under French control. This sketch looking up the valley to the little town is one of a number in this sketchbook showing the magnificent mountain walls surrounding it; see especially folio 64 verso (D04464) for a similar view, and also folios 65–70 verso (D04465–D04476). Le Chetif appears on the left. This leaf was the basis of one of the most striking watercolours Turner based on the 1802 tour, St Huges denouncing Vengeance on the Shepherd of Cormayer, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London).1 Its splashes of water were presumably spilt while Turner was at work on the picture; similar splashes are on the facing folio 63 (D04461). In both cases they seem too localised to be raindrops falling as he sketched.

David Blayney Brown
June 2004

Wilton 1979, p.341 no.364.

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Le Chetif and the Mont Blanc Massif from below Courmayeur 1802 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2004, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-le-chetif-and-the-mont-blanc-massif-from-below-courmayeur-r1133089, accessed 15 January 2021.