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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sedan from the South-East c.1839

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Sedan from the South-East c.1839
Turner Bequest CCLIX 13
Gouache and watercolour on blue wove paper, 141 x 191 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLIX 13’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Here Turner depicts the city of Sedan, located in the Ardennes region of northern France. The view is taken from the Porte de Bouillon toward the south-east of the city, and incorporates the twin-towered baroque Church of Saint-Charles, which is rendered in blue, and the citadel at right, coloured in peach gouache. The flat pastures and low rolling hills of the Ardennes extend expansively beyond the city.
A small troop of soldiers with horses is visible in the foreground: a supplementary but important detail which reminds the viewer of Sedan’s formidable military history. Positioned in a highly strategic location on the Meuse and within miles of the French border with Belgium, Sedan was once at the fault line of conflict during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). Cecilia Powell writes that the foreground also provides Turner’s view with a ‘requisite sense of scale’ with which to frame and proportion the landscape beyond. 1
Turner produced a preparatory sketch for this gouache in the Givet, Mézières, Verdun, Metz, Luxemburg and Trèves sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28202; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 18 a). The foreground fortifications are also close to those found in a sketch in Tate D28208; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 21 a.
Powell 1991, p.164 no.104.
Inscribed in pencil ‘95’ at centre.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Sedan from the South-East 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-sedan-from-the-south-east-r1150988, accessed 26 January 2022.