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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Château d'Argent, above Villeneuve, Val d'Aosta, Mount Emilius in the Distance 1802

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Château d’Argent, above Villeneuve, Val d’Aosta, Mount Emilius in the Distance 1802
Turner Bequest LXXIV 8
Pencil, black chalk and white gouache on greyish-buff laid paper, 212 x 280 mm
Stamped in black ‘LXXIV 8’ bottom right
Blind-stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s label for this drawing is probably the one inscribed ‘Chateau de Aoust’, a title retained by John Ruskin and for the early displays at the National Gallery where it was shown with a version in watercolour painted after Turner’s return to England (Tate D04895; Turner Bequest LXXX B).
The drawing is quite carefully studied from Turner’s first impression of the Château d’Argent, its tower silhouetted against the snowy slopes of Mount Emilius, also from this sketchbook (D40200). As David Hill points out, Turner saw the castle as he approached Villeneuve from the Fort Roch road. With its frame of trees the composition is classically treated, reflecting the fact that this stretch of Turner’s tour in 1802 was effectively his first sight of Italy. John Ruskin remarked the ‘classicalness’ of Turner’s views of the Roman architecture of Aosta (see, from this sketchbook, D04501–D04503; Turner Bequest LXXIX 9–11) and thought this subject showed that the artist was ‘yet hampered by old rules and precedents. He is still trying to tame the Alps into submission to Richard Wilson’.1
The watercolour, particularly delicate yet brilliantly coloured, omits most of the flock of sheep in the foreground here, and kept only the trunk of the left-hand tree.
Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.225.

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘The Château d’Argent, above Villeneuve, Val d’Aosta, Mount Emilius in the Distance 1802 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 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-the-chateau-dargent-above-villeneuve-val-daosta-mount-r1146371, accessed 23 June 2024.