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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Tower of François I at Le Havre ?1829

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 7 Verso:
Tower of François I at Le Havre ?1829
Turner Bequest CCLIII 7a
Pencil on pale cream laid paper, 107 x 156 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The page contains a sketch, drawn horizontally, of a rounded and crenellated building. Finberg recorded this sketch as ‘Tower on River’,1 but the location of Le Havre has been confirmed.2 Turner concentrates on the shape of this building as well as the general shapes of the buildings to the right and his depiction renders the structure identifiable as the Tower of François I at Le Havre, located by the sea. (For a similar viewpoint to that of this sketch, see a later painting by the French artist Eugène Boudin, Le Havre, la Tour François Ier, 1852–5.3)
The Tower of François I at Le Havre was a defensive structure located on the north of the entrance to the port. The tower was constructed from 1517 onwards, and first completed in 1520. It was used to control access to the port, but later when considered militarily ineffective and an obstacle to navigation, it was destroyed in 1861.4
The loose swirling strokes on the right of the sketch are likely to indicate greenery to the side of the buildings. The long horizontal lines on the left with the rounded and perpendicular strokes below them may denote masts and ships on the water, and the curve to the left may indicate the sweep of the quay.

Caroline South
May 2017

Finberg 1909, II, p.76.
?Ian Warrell, ‘Turner on the Seine: Topographical Index’, c.1999, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain (printout in copy of Warrell 1999), p.3.
‘Tour François-Ier’, www.avenio.ville-lehavre.fr, accessed 17 March 2017, http://avenio.ville-lehavre.fr/4DCGI/Web_VoirLaNotice/07_03/121/ILUMP6310; Warrell 1999, p.99.

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Tower of François I at Le Havre ?1829 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2017, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2019, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-tower-of-francois-i-at-le-havre-r1195618, accessed 22 May 2024.