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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Tournus and the Plain of the River Saône 1802

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 19 Recto:
Tournus and the Plain of the River Saône 1802
Turner Bequest LXXIII 19
Pencil on grey-buff laid paper, 138 x 215 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Macon’ bottom right
Numbered by a later hand in pencil ‘19’ and stamped in black ‘LXXIII 19’ bottom left, descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Despite Turner’s inscription, this is a view of Tournus, with its Romanesque abbey of St Philibert, seen from the Chalon-sur-Saône road to the north. As David Hill points out, Mâcon is in fact some seventeen miles further south.1 He suggests that Turner had reached Tournus – about twenty miles on from Chalon (see folios 17, 18 of this sketchbook, D04409, D04410) – on his third day out of Paris.2 Turner made this sketch on his final approach from Sennecy-le-Grand, looking over the town across the plain of the Saône to the Jura. Two other sketches of Tournus are on folios 26 and 27 (D04418, D04419). Turner’s composition studies for his painting The Festival upon the Opening of the Vintage of Macon (Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust)3 in the Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate, D05018, D05019; Turner Bequest LXXXI 116, 117) were freely developed from this sketch, while the picture’s title reflected his confusion over the inscription as well as his memory of the vineyards he passed through between Autun and Chalon. Surprisingly, Turner does not seem to have made any sketches of the real Mâcon.
Hill 1992, p.28.
Ibid., p.27.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.36 no.47 (pl.55, colour).

David Blayney Brown
June 2004

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Tournus and the Plain of the River Saône 1802 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2004, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-tournus-and-the-plain-of-the-river-saone-r1133038, accessed 24 June 2024.