View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
This finely wrought and evocative drawing depicts Beilstein, a town situated on a bend of the Moselle near Cochem. Turner shows St Joseph’s Parish Church and Carmelite monastery at centre, coloured with the same milky-pink gouache as the Burg Metternich atop the pinnacle to the right. The ruins of this thirteenth-century castle, once the estate of powerful feudal lords, constituted, for the novelist and traveller Michael Joseph Quin, ‘one of the most picturesque memorials of chivalry to be seen on the Moselle’.1
The sand bank in the foreground is peopled by locals on horseback, herding what seem to be small groups of cattle. Beyond, a barge with its sail erect glides along the crystalline waters towards the bend in the valley. Turner has used the finest of hairline brushstrokes to render these details, lending the foreground a contrastive sharpness to the softly streaked mountains surrounding the town. These grand rocky ranges are described by Quin as ‘constantly varying in shape and height, some naked, some densely wooded, with vines interspersed’. 2 The vines can be seen at the right creeping up the mountainside. The slanted striations and craggy texture of the rocks is suggested with fine strokes of blue, pink, and yellow pigment.
Turner based this work on a series of drawings in the Trèves to Cochem and Coblenz to Mayence sketchbook (Tate D28367–D28369; Turner Bequest CCXC 9–10). As Cecilia Powell points out, Clarkson Stanfield produced a very similar view to this in his Sketches on the Moselle of 1838. It is likely, then, that Turner ‘sought out his viewpoint deliberately’, given its already established popularity.3
Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.36. See also ‘Geschichte’, Burg Metternich, http://www
.burg, accessed 17 September 2013. -metternich .de /burg
Quin 1843, p.35.
Powell 1991, p.139–40 no.62.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXI F’ bottom centre; inscribed in pencil 14?b’ and ‘
70a’ centre towards right.