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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Views of the Quayside, Le Havre ?1829

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 8 Recto:
Views of the Quayside, Le Havre ?1829
Turner Bequest CCLIII 8
Pencil on pale cream laid paper, 156 x 107 mm
Inscribed by Turner ‘Dark Pails and | Canvas Covers’ centre right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘8’ top left upside down
Stamped in black ‘CCLIII – 8’ top left upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The page contains four separate sketches, each drawn horizontally, the bottom two with the page turned upside down. Finberg noted this page simply as ‘Houses on quay, &c.’;1 however, the location of Le Havre has been confirmed.2 The right-hand part of the uppermost sketch depicts a rounded building whose shape indicates it is the Tower of François I (for further information on the tower, see under folio 7 verso; D23712). In this sketch, Turner concentrates not on the tower but on shapes of the buildings to the left of it. Of this group of buildings, the structure on the right seems to be a lighthouse, and at centre there appears to be an arched entrance within a wall or bastion.
The second sketch is the most detailed, depicting a busy quayside scene with buildings on the upper right, ships indicated by their masts, and a tower on the left topped with an onion-shaped dome. The central curved lines may indicate a bridge. The circular shapes at bottom right of this sketch are likely to indicate the wheels of a cart. The lines to the left of the wheels may depict a person. The objects in the foreground on the right appear to be pails, and some text appears beneath them which Finberg noted as reading ‘Dark Pails [and] Canvas Covers?’.3 The reading given here follows Finberg’s manuscript annotation to his 1909 Inventory, which he ascribes to ‘JPH’ (indicating the artist and collector John Postle Heseltine, 1843–1929). Turner therefore seems to have had a particular interest in recording the appearance of these pails.
The third and fourth sketches (drawn with the page turned upside down) both record the outline of buildings. The rounded and crenellated shape of the Tower of François I at Le Havre is indicated to the left of the third sketch. The fourth sketch seems to indicate a bastion over the water (as depicted in an engraving of the tower after M.G. Brabin4).
Art historian Ian Warrell states5 that this page relates to Turner’s later watercolour, The Quayside and Tower of François I at Le Havre, Normandy, c.1832 (D24648, Turner Bequest CCLIX 83). He refers presumably to the first, third and fourth sketches in particular, in which Turner records the shapes of the rounded tower and rectangular buildings, as also depicted in the watercolour.
This page is the first in a series which follow in the sketchbook (folios 8 recto–10 recto; D23713–D23717) recording the buildings on the quayside at Le Havre. With each page the buildings diminish in size and more of the coastline is depicted which indicate Turner gradually moving away from Le Havre and the north bank of the Seine estuary on which it is located, and across the water to the south bank of the Seine.

Caroline South
May 2017

Finberg 1909, II, p.768.
Warrell 1999, p.269 no.63, ?Ian Warrell, ‘Turner on the Seine: Topographical Index’, c.1999, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain (printout in copy of Warrell 1999), p.3.
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, opposite p.768.
‘Ancienne Tour de François Ier au Havre’ (exact date unknown), www.wikimedia.org, accessed 17 March 2017, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/L'Illustration_1862_gravure_Tour_de_François_Ier_au_Havre,_détruit_en_1861.jpg.
Warrell 1999, p.269 no.63.

How to cite

Caroline South, ‘Views of the Quayside, 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-views-of-the-quayside-le-havre-r1195619, accessed 21 May 2024.