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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Quillebeuf c.1832

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Quillebeuf c.1832
Turner Bequest CCLIX 103
Gouache and watercolour on blue paper, 140 x 189 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
By Robert Brandard in 1833, published in 1834.
In this watercolour, Turner depicts a large wave, rearing beneath the town of Quillebeuf, located on the River Seine in northern France. The town is identifiable by its Church of Notre-Dame de Bon-Port, and lighthouse, in the background. Art historians Judy Egerton and others explain that this stretch of the river Seine was strewn with hazards, including a tidal wave known locally as ‘barre’,1 also portrayed in Turner’s oil painting The Mouth of the Seine, Quilleboeuf (Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon),2 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1833. The wave surges powerfully in the foreground, filling a third of the whole image. Turner works washes of green watercolour against the blue background paper to evoke the colour of the sea. He uses streaks of blue, black and brown gouache against the blue paper to convey the body and force of the wave, and white gouache to depict crashing foam. Further movement is suggested by the angle of the buoy, bobbing in the water at lower left, and the birds circling it.
Pencil sketches (Tate D24033; Turner Bequest CCLIV 77, in particular the bottom sketch of D24038; CCLIV 79a,3 and the central sketch of D24034; CCLIV 77a4) from Turner’s Seine and Paris sketchbook, dating from 1832, provided bases for this watercolour, although as art historian Ian Warrell points out, none anticipate the composition of the watercolour exactly.5
An engraving was made from this watercolour by Robert Brandard in 1833, as Quilleboeuf (Tate impressions T05610 and T06242), for the volume Wanderings by the Seine of 1834.6 The white seagulls circling the water in the sky at far left, and the white windmill on the hill at far right, are accentuated in the engraving.
Egerton, Wyld and Roy 1995, p.62.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.203 no.353, pl.357 (colour); Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.119; Wilton 1979, p.414; Papastamos, Gage and Stainton 1981, p.123.
Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.119, Wilton 1979, p.414.
Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.119.
Warrell 1999, p.274.
Leitch Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine, London, Paris and Berlin 1834, opposite p.192.
Previous records note ‘inscribed in pencil “9 | Quillebeuf”’ but the work has since been mounted so that the back is not to be seen. The reverse of the mount has the words ‘No image on the back’. However, there is no comment about the inscription.

Caroline South
November 2017

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Quillebeuf c.1832 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 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-quillebeuf-r1195795, accessed 08 August 2022.