View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
This study, rendered with relative detail, shows the majestic Burg Lahneck, crowning a steep rock above the confluence of the Lahn and Rhine Rivers. The castle dates back to 1226, constructed by the Archbishop of Mainz, Siegfried III of Eppstein, to protect his territories at the mouth of the Lahn.1 By the time of Turner’s visit it had been heavily damaged, besieged in 1633 by Imperial troops during the Thirty Years War.2
In the foreground at left is Oberlahnstein (Upper Lahnstein). A customs tower, identifiable by its ornate dome and lantern, is just visible on the shore in front of a jetty. This tower in turn is adjacent to a legendary tavern, dating back to 1697, where the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe penned a poem inspired by the sight of Lahneck Castle.3 Though the view of this riverside inn is occluded by a few trees and the masts of sailing vessels, taverns such as the Wirtshaus an der Lahn were popular among boatmen, wagon drivers and most probably wayfaring artists like Turner.
‘Die Geschichte des Wirstauses an der Lahn’, Wirsthaus an der Lahn, accessed 12 December 2013, http://www
.wirtshaus -an -der -lahn .info /wirtshaus .html