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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Spa, Dinant and Namur Sketchbook 1839

Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 1–66a
Sketchbook quarter-bound in boards covered with brown and white marbled paper, with parchment spine; two loops made of the same marbled paper at front and back covers for holding pencils or fastening
Bears the manufacturer’s label at top left of inside front cover, printed ‘P.J. Heyvaert Pauwels | Imprimeur, Papetier, | Rue de la Madelaine; sect. 7, No 445, | A Bruxelles, | Tient Magasin de Bronzes
Inscribed in black ink by Turner with single short vertical line on upper fore-edge
Signed and inscribed by Charles Turner in black ink ‘No 350 Contains | 64 Leaves in Pencil | all on both sides’ and signed in pencil by Charles Locke Eastlake ‘C.L.E.’ and by John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’ all at centre inside front cover
Blind stamped with Turner Bequest monogram on front cover at centre left towards top
Blind stamped ‘CCLXXXVII’ on front cover top right
Blind stamped with Turner Bequest monogram inside front cover at centre towards bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXXVII’ inside front cover top left
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXXXVII’ and ‘5.97’ inside front cover top right
66 leaves of white wove writing paper with front and rear paste-downs of similar paper
Watermarked ‘John Fellows | 1810’
Approximate size of page 154 x 94 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The Spa, Dinant, and Namur sketchbook records part of Turner’s tour through Belgium taken in the summer of 1839. The subject of the drawings is the ancient and extensive Meuse River and the towns and villages situated along its banks including Dinant, Franchimont, Huy, Liège, Louvain, Namur and Spa.
The sketchbook is one of five others used by Turner during the 1839 tour (Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII, CCXC, CCXCI, and CCLXXXIX). The artist himself listed all five together as a group and on a paper label affixed to the cover of one of the sketchbooks.1 It contains British-made white wove writing paper manufactured by John Fellows at Eynsford Mill in Kent, watermarked with the date 1810. The Brussels stationer P.J. Heyvaert Pauwels, whose label is found at the inside front cover, most probably imported the paper for making into sketch- and notebooks.2
As Cecilia Powell proposes, Turner must have bought the book at the start of his tour before setting off for Liège on Saturday 3rd August.3 The drawings provide a clear record of the artist’s progress from the Belgian capital almost as far as Givet, as he travelled and sketched across the country and up the Meuse, making stops successively at Louvain, Liège, Huy, Namur and Dinant, with a detour from Liège to Spa early on in the tour. For more information on this leg of the trip see the general Introduction ‘Itinerary’ section.
Rough and swiftly wrought sketches and jottings in landscape format predominate, taken from various angles and perspectives. There are, however, a number of detailed and carefully rendered drawings such as the Grand’Place at Dinant (Tate D28155–D28156; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 60a–61), the Town Hall and St Peter’s Church at Louvain (Tate D28045; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 2 a), and an expansive panorama of Dinant (Tate D28094; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVII 27 a). From these pencil sketches Turner later produced a series of outstanding colour drawings on blue paper in gouache, watercolour and, in most instances, pen and ink (see The Meuse from Liège up to Sedan watercolours subset).
The pages of this sketchbook are almost certainly not in their original order: a result of John Ruskin’s extracting them during his inventory. Finberg’s introduction makes reference to this; he writes: ‘The leaves were distributed, but numbered. The following were found in a parcel endorsed by Mr. Ruskin, “Inferior leaves of 350. Dinant: Namur. Referentially interesting”’.4
Powell 1991, p.48–9.
Bower 1999, p.64 no.33, note 3; Bower notes that ‘it is unusual to find a sketchbook or notebook being used nearly thirty years after the paper was made’.
Powell 1991, pp.49, 127.
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.916.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

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How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Spa, Dinant and Namur Sketchbook 1839’, sketchbook, June 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/spa-dinant-and-namur-sketchbook-r1150315, accessed 23 October 2021.