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The Confluence of the Seine and the Marne at Charenton, France

The Confluence of the Seine and the Marne at Charenton, France
inscribed and numbered in red on the reverse '8/Junction of Seine and Marne/at Charenton'
watercolor and bodycolor on blue paper
5 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (13.6 x 18.5 cm.)
Commissioned by Charles Heath, sold by Order of the Court of Chancery; Christie's 22 May 1852, lot 57 (40 gns to Lambe).
‌Mr Lambe.
Robert Hanbury; Christie's 13 May 1884, lot 132 (26 gns to Walford).
C.E. Hughes and by descent to
Anonymous sale; Christie's London, 11 July 1995, lot 33.
‌Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at the above sale.
L. Ritchie, Wanderings by the Seine (vol.2): Turner’s Annual Tour, 1835, p. 212.
J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, I, 1843 (reprinted in Cook & Wedderburn, The Works of John Ruskin, III, p. 548).
Sir W. Armstrong, Turner, 1902, p. 277.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., II, 1913, p. 275, no. 490.
A. Graves, Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century, 1921, III, p. 239.
L. Herrmann, Turner Prints: The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, 1990, p. 179.
A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, 1979, pp. 416-7, no. 988.
W.S. Rodner, J.M.W. Turner. Romantic Painter of the Industrial Revolution, University of California Press, 1997, pp. 42-4, fig. 14.
I. Warrell, Turner on the Seine, 1999, pp. 248, 278; reproduced p. 247, fig. 250.
Professor A. Lambert, unpublished lecture at Turner and the Sea conference, 22 March 2014.
London, Tate Gallery, Paris, Pavilion des Arts, and Le Havre, Musée des Beaux Arts, Turner on the Seine, 29 June 1999 - 12 June 2000, no. 150.
San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Luminous Worlds: British Works on Paper 1780-1900, 11 July - 29 November 2015, unnumbered.
By J.C. Armytage, 1834, for Turner’s Annual Tour, 1835 (Rawlinson no.490); subsequently reprinted in the collected, bi-lingual edition The Rivers of France (1837 and many later editions).

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Joshua Glazer
Joshua Glazer Specialist, Head of Private Sales

Lot Essay

Nearly all of the forty or so celebrated views Turner painted of the River Seine in the early 1830s are in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. For some reason, however, four of the group (including the present drawing) were retained by the publisher Charles Heath even after the images had been engraved and issued. Turner’s attempts to reclaim them failed and the matter eventually came to a head in a lawsuit that was only resolved once both men had died (see Warrell 1999, op.cit., pp. 75-6).
Throughout the Seine series Turner had often given prominence in his designs to the steam-boats that had dramatically reduced journey times up the river from the port of Le Havre since the early 1820s,following the voyage of the Aaron Manby from London to Paris. The inclusion of this innovative but functional means of transport was considered a departure from the principals of Picturesque taste by some, including Turner’s champion John Ruskin, who objected to the intrusion of the noise and pollution of modern industry.
Perhaps the most famous of the Seine subjects is Between Quilleboeuf and Villequier (c.1832, Tate Britain), which, in its juxtaposition of steam and sail, anticipated the composition of The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838 (1839, National Gallery). But the present work offers an even more radical concentration on a paddler-steamer, isolating its puffing stack against the light of the rising sun at the very center of the image, creating a symbol of innovation and progress. A sense of the boat’s mechanical power is conveyed by the line of churning water left behind as it pushes its way through the swirling currents of the two merged rivers. As in the later painting, Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway (1844, National Gallery), Turner sets up a contrast between the dynamic movement of the main object and more traditional conveyances, in this case a trundling diligence pulled by a team of horses (highlighted by the use of red in the watercolor). The sense of ancient and modern ways rubbing against each other is further compounded by the inclusion of an adjacent team of fishermen hauling in one of their circling ‘Seine’ nets, a centuries-old practice. As the critic of the Athenaeum observed: ‘the artist has had the daring to press one of those vituperated craft called steam-boats into his service, to render it effective and picturesque’ (6 December 1834).
It has been noted by Professor Andrew Lambert that the decision to depict the maligned paddler-steamer at Charenton-le-Pont, on the(then) most eastern outskirts of Paris, was a deliberate attempt by Turner to celebrate British innovation. The Aaron Manby, the first iron-hulled steamboat on the Seine, was devised and constructed by Captain Charles Napier(1786-1860) and Aaron Manby (1776-1850). The latter went on to establish his engineering works beside the Seine at Charenton; it is therefore likely that the boat depicted is intended to be the Aaron Manby itself.
‌We are grateful to Ian Warrell for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.

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