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This is a souvenir of J M W Turner's watercolour, St Julian's, Tours, circa 1826-30, in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum; Turner's watercolour was engraved by W Radclyffe in 1833.
In 1826, J M W Turner made an extensive tour of north-west France, which culminated in a journey up the River Loire that included a stop at Tours. He found that its mediaeval church of Saint-Julien was being used as a coach house and stable, and had been since the Revolution. Of the drawings that he made of it, one was worked up in watercolour as St Julian’s, Tours, and engraved by William Radclyffe for the 1833 publication, Wanderings by the Loire (the first volume of what became known as ‘The Rivers of France’). John Ruskin, the great apologist of Turner, described the engraving as ‘especially remarkable for its preservation of deep points of gloom, because the whole picture is of one extended shade (Modern Painters, vol I, 1843, part II, section II, chapter III, ‘Of Truth of Chiaroscuro’). He owned the original drawing and, in 1861, gave it and others in the series, ‘The Rivers of France’, to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, who was a friend of Ruskin and something of a student of the work of Turner, would have known both the original drawing and the engraving, but the tonal difference between the two suggests that he is more likely to have copied the former than the latter in order to create the present souvenir.