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Here Turner depicts the town of Niederlahnstein situated in the foothills of the Westerwald and Taunus and at the confluence of the Lahn and Rhine Rivers, approximately four miles south of Koblenz. Owing to their strategic importance on the Rhine, Niederlahnstein and Oberlahnstein (Lower and Upper Lahnstein) were heavily fortified, dominated by Lahneck and Martinsburg Castles and the Schloss Stolzenfels. It is the Burg Lahneck which Turner represents in this sketch, its form rendered in simple silhouette as it presides loftily over Niederlahnstein.
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 eighteenth century, the castle was immortalised by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his poem Geistesgruß of 1774.3
For depictions of Burg Lahneck elsewhere in this sketchbook see Tate D28450–D28453, D28524–D28528; Turner Bequest CCXC 50a–52, 85–87. For earlier views see the Itinerary Rhine Tour sketchbook of 1817 (Tate D12659; Turner Bequest CCLIX 81a); the Waterloo and Rhine and Rhine sketchbooks of the same date (Tate D12808, D12811, D12812, D12852, D12906, D12907, D12911, D12980; Turner Bequest CLX 55a, 57, 57a, 77, CLXI 13a, 14, 17, 52). See also the 1824 sketchbooks Rivers Meuse and Moselle and Trèves and Rhine (Tate D19829, D19831, D19833, D19834, D20157, D20159; Turner Bequest CCXVI 139a, 140a, 141a, 142, CCXVIII 19, 21).