View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
As the traveller ascends the river from Liège to Namur and Dinant, the Meuse:
offers on both sides a continually changing assemblage of picturesque and beautiful scenery. At times the stream is walled in on both banks by towering and almost perpendicular piles of rock, whose broken and crenelated summits, assume to the eye, the forms of gigantic fortresses and vast feudal castles in ruins. As these rocks contain a large proportion of iron ore, the deep dark rusty hues brought out upon them by the action of the air and the rain, give them a peculiarly sombre and time-warn character, which is admirably contrasted by the soft verdure of the trees and the bright green meadows, hop grounds, and gardens, in the vicinity.1
These are the lyrical observations of the writer Bartholomew Stritch, who navigated the Meuse twenty-one years after Turner’s 1824 tour. When read in relation to the present cursory pencil sketches, Stritch’s descriptive facility brings the drawings to life, colouring them with a palpable sense of history. The rich russet red of the cliffs, a result of reactive iron ore deposits in the rock, is noted by Turner himself: see the inscription ‘Red Ore’ at top left.
Bartholomew Stritch, The Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine; or, A six weeks' tour through the finest river scenery in Europe, by B.S, London 1845, p.17.