Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant View of Metz; Metz Cathedral, Showing Tour de la Mutte, Façade with Rose Window and Eighteenth-Century Portal by Blondel; Fortresses


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 x 78 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 118

Catalogue entry

Turner was in Metz on 21, 24 and 25 August 1824. Here, the artist makes a study of the city’s celebrated Cathedral of St Stephen, a majestic Rayonnant Gothic building constructed in local Jaumont limestone. Turner depicts the west end of the cathedral, and the monumental portal designed by Jacques-François Blondel constructed between 1754 and 1755.1 The portal is part of a larger scheme of renovations arranged by Blondel, which also included the demolition of the complex of southern chapels and their replacement with the Place d’Armes.2 The fourteenth-century rose window, the work of the master glass maker Hermann von Münster, and the Tour de la Mutte, the cathedral’s vertiginous belfry built in 1481, is also visible in the sketch.3
A number of small and slight jottings surround the study of the cathedral: one, a distant view of Metz with the medieval bridge, the other, a view of two forts atop hills. Cecilia Powell suggests that these forts may be Ehrenbreitstein at Koblenz.4 Alternatively, they may belong to part of the fortifications at Metz.
For other sketches of Metz in this book see Tate D19709; Turner Bequest CCXVI 80a.

Alice Rylance-Watson
May 2014

(ed.) Colum Hourihane, The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture vol.II, Oxford 2012, p.275.
Powell 1991, Appendix p.208.

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