Dieppe Harbor painted by Turner exhibited in Britain for the first time in over a century

A Norman harbor is once again honored in one of London’s most prestigious museums.

The port of Dieppe in all its splendor is on display

at the National Gallery, in the heart of the English capital, until February 19, 1923. This work by the British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) had not returned to the country for over a hundred years. She returns with a canvas representing the port of Cologne; duo acquired by American industrialist and patron Henry Clay Frick, and have since remained masterpieces in the Frick Collection.

Locations enlarged and colors initially criticized

At the heart of this huge canvas, the sun, as often with Turner. The most famous British painter was also criticized for his colors, which were considered too warm, too southern, when he exhibited this work for the first time. ‘Dieppe Havn: change of domicile’ was exhibited in 1825, but subsequently dated 1826. And the Friksamlingen

noticed that “The French subtitle that Turner assigned to the painting – ‘Changement de domicile’ (change of address) – may refer to the couple on the right who appear to be loading or unloading objects from the boats”.

In the early 19th century, English travelers like Turner came through Dieppe very often. An obvious destination from the ports of south-east England, for example Brighton. He painted this picture from sketches made on the site in 1821. Not an identical painting, he wanted to enlarge the site, Christine Riding of the National Gallery specifies: “You may recognize buildings such as the Hotel d’Anvers on Quai Henry IV. There are also churches and other characteristic buildings.”

Turner says to himself “I will paint a large canvas set in France as a tribute to the classic masters of the genre”. But his workis not classic, on the contrary it makes it very modern“adds the curator. Med the port of Dieppe, “he transforms his identity as an artist who paints journeys. He modernizes the approach that was previously taken to this kind of scenes”.

Detail from 'Harbour of Dieppe: Change of Residence', first exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Detail from ‘Harbour of Dieppe: Change of Residence’, first exhibited at the Royal Academy.

© Radio France
-Richard Place

“A very positive message in relation to Franco-British relations”

Christine Riding also explains that “Dieppe is well known to English travellers. Turner must have chosen it for that reason. He went there twice himself. He was a great traveller, going every summer until he was 70 years old. He crossed France to take to the south. He was finally a regular in Dieppe. On the net the boats come and go, it is a place of transition, a place of exchanges in the modern and ancient sense at the same time”.

And to assess it “In a post-war period, after Waterloo, painting a French port like this is a powerful message. A place that is both rich and dynamic. At a time when you can imagine that the British and the French still had some animosity . But Turner got out of it right away. “We did it. It is like that, but we moved on.” This is a very positive message in terms of Franco-British relations.”

Turner painted Dantesque sea battles. Those of the Napoleonic Wars inspired him greatly. With the port of Dieppe, he still paints the sea and the boats, but the artist has changed his point of view. This time he glorifies peace and maritime trade. He even gives a romantic vision of it.




59 min

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