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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Les Contamines, Dawn: Looking towards St Gervais and Mont Blanc 1802

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Les Contamines, Dawn: Looking towards St Gervais and Mont Blanc 1802
Turner Bequest LXXV 24
Pencil, black chalk, watercolour and white gouache with scratching out on white wove paper prepared with grey wash, 320 x 475 mm
Stamped in black ‘LXXV 24’ bottom right
Blind-stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This subject was first identified by John Ruskin, doubtless from the inscription ‘Contamines’ in Turner’s hand on the leaf originally adjoining it in the sketchbook (D04617; Turner Bequest LXXV 25). Turner passed through the village of Les Contamines, in the Val Montjoie, after climbing the Col de Voza and before negotiating the Col du Bonhomme, on his way from Chamonix to Courmayeur. He would have stayed overnight and the dawn light so vividly shown here, breaking over the ridge of Mont Blanc on the right, suggests an early rise before the long day’s trek over the Col du Bonhomme to Courmayeur. One of the groups of three figures sketched here might be Turner himself, his travelling companion Newbey Lowson and their guide.
In his catalogue note for the National Gallery, John Ruskin cited this drawing as evidence of the ‘gloomy cast of thought’ in the subjects from this sketchbook.1
Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.228.
Inscribed by a later hand in pencil ‘1’

David Blayney Brown
November 2011

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Les Contamines, Dawn: Looking towards St Gervais and Mont Blanc 1802 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-les-contamines-dawn-looking-towards-st-gervais-and-mont-r1146521, accessed 23 June 2024.