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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Citadel, Church of Notre-Dame and Bridge over the Meuse at Dinant, Looking Downstream from the West Bank 1824

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 16 Recto:
The Citadel, Church of Notre-Dame and Bridge over the Meuse at Dinant, Looking Downstream from the West Bank 1824
Turner Bequest CCXVII 16
Pencil on off-white wove paper, 99 x 162 mm
Watermark ‘[...]lls | 1[...]’
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ‘White’ centre right, ‘yellow’ towards bottom right
Inscribed in blue ink by Ruskin ‘16’ top right and ‘247’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXVII–16’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is the first in a series of four intricate studies of Dinant, a Belgian town located on the Meuse thirty kilometres south of Namur (for the others see Tate D20110–D20113; Turner Bequest CCXVII 17–19). Turner’s rendering of the scene here is exactly as the journalist and author Dudley Costello described: ‘the situation of Dinant is in the highest degree picturesque... Below the bridge the houses are built close to the river, and above it are separated only by a long quay, planted with trees, which serves for recreation as well as commerce’.1 Costello also writes of a ‘spacious market place’ at the foot of the bridge next to the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, which is shown here with its strikingly bulbous onion-domed spire and lantern.2 The viewer will notice that this shape is echoed, albeit in rather squatter proportions, in the spire of the Porte Saint-Martin, a city gate, at far right. Turner has inscribed what appear to be notes on colours (‘white’ and ‘yellow’) close to the bottom right of the church and within one of the houses at the foot of the bridge.
Dinant is ‘backed by a steep ridge’, a rock ‘wild and bare’ surmounted by a citadel, which is recorded here in this drawing.3 The ‘formidable fortress’, as Costello calls it, was constructed in the twelfth century and remodelled by the French and Dutch. It rises perpendicularly from the plateau commanding ‘all the approaches to the town’ in a manner which ‘appears to laugh a siege to scorn’.4
For other 1824 drawings of Dinant, see those in the Rivers Meuse and Moselle (Tate D19554, D19559, D19654–D19657, D19659, D19662–D19663; Turner Bequest CCXVI 2, 4a, 52a–54, 55, 56a–57). For later views, particularly sketches taken in 1839, see Tate D28094, D28122, D28125, D28142, D28147, D28153, D28155–D28158, D28160–D28166, D41091; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 27a, 42a, 44a, 53, 56a, 59a, 60a–62a, 63a–66a. There is also a series of colour drawings executed in gouache and watercolour: Tate D20227, D20228, D24724, D28984; Turner Bequest CCXX T, U; CCLIX 159, CCXCII 37.
Dudley Costello, A tour through the valley of the Meuse: with the legends of the Walloon country and the Ardennes, London 1846, pp.207–8.
Ibid, p.208.
Ibid; see also ‘The Citadel’s History’, La Citadelle Dinant, accessed 23 January 2014, http://www.citadellededinant.be/en/tourism-history
Technical notes:
The paper has mottled and browned significantly, a result of the drawing’s prolonged exhibition and exposure to sunlight during the nineteenth century.

Alice Rylance-Watson
January 2014

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘The Citadel, Church of Notre-Dame and Bridge over the Meuse at Dinant, Looking Downstream from the West Bank 1824 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-citadel-church-of-notre-dame-and-bridge-over-the-meuse-r1174306, accessed 19 August 2022.