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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The West Front of Rouen Cathedral 1821

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 22 Recto:
The West Front of Rouen Cathedral 1821
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 22
Pencil on white wove paper, 118 x 123 mm
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘22’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLVIII – 22’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This detailed architectural study of the west front of Rouen Cathedral was the basis of a watercolour and gouache design of Rouen Cathedral c.1832 (Tate D24674; Turner Bequest CCLIX 109) for Turner’s Annual Tour: Wanderings by the Seine 1834 (Tate T06238). When he stood at the opening to the Rue du Petite-Salut opposite the west end of the cathedral to make this sketch, Turner was not able to encompass the height of the building into the landscape format of the sketch. He therefore continued the study by drawing the towers on folio 11 (Tate D24520; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 11).
His approach in this sketch has been described as ‘reminiscent of the elegant style of Turner’s adolescent architectural studies’.1 The composition, with its enclosed vista has also been likened to the contemporary style of Samuel Prout (1783–1852),2 and Ian Warrell has placed the sketch in the context of other contemporary topographical drawings and engravings of the cathedral.3
For a list of Turner’s sketches of Rouen in this book, see folio 1 (Tate D24500; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 1).

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Warrell and Perkins 1988, p.21 no.55.
Lyles 1992, p.60 under 29.
Warrell 1999, pp.181–85.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘The West Front of Rouen Cathedral 1821 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2013, 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-west-front-of-rouen-cathedral-r1146328, accessed 27 November 2020.