Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Oberburg and St Matthias Chapel, Kobern, Looking Downstream; Gondorf; Niederfell


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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 131

Catalogue entry

In these six slight and diminutive sketches, Turner records a variety of views at Kobern, Gondorf and Niederfell. The two uppermost drawings and the penultimate sketch from rear show Kobern, a settlement presided over by ‘two ruined castles, that like gigantic sentinels, seem to keep watch and ward over the little town’, the Victorian author Bartholomew Stritch writes.1 One of these castles, the twelfth-century Oberburg (Upper Castle), is visible in Turner’s sketches of Kobern, as well as the Oberburg’s reliquary chapel dedicated to St Mattias.2 Constructed in the Romanesque style, the chapel was erected for the purpose of housing the head of the Apostle Mattias. The relic was reportedly plundered by Henry II of Kobern during the Siege of Damietta of the Fifth Crusade (1218–19).3
The central and lower sketches (excluding the above-mentioned drawing of Kobern) show Gondorf (‘Condorff’) and the village of Niederfell. The latter of these settlements is dominated by the Niederburg (Lower Castle), the second feudal seat of the Isenburg-Kobern family which is twinned with the Oberburg.
For additional views of Kobern and Niederfell in this sketchbook see Tate D19813–D19815; Turner Bequest CCXVI 131a–132a. See also Tate D20271, D28300–D28301, D28589–D28594; Turner Bequest CCXVI 131a–132a, CCXXII L, CCLXXXIX 5a–6, CCXCI 27a–30.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2014

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.65.
‘Oberburg, Kobern-Gondorf’, Mosel, accessed 9 June 2014, <>
‘Mattiaskapelle, Kobern-Gondorf’, Mosel, accessed 9 June 2014,

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