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Between 1817 and 1844, Turner made
seven tours of Germany. In Turner’s time,
Germany consisted of many different
states, formed as the German
Confederation in 1814 after the fall of
Napoleon, who had ruled since 1806.
This painting commemorates the 1842
opening of the Walhalla temple (‘Wallhalla’
in Turner’s spelling), a classical building
overlooking the river Danube, constructed
under the auspices of king Ludwig I of
Bavaria as a symbol of national unity
and a monument to great Germans of
the past.

At the Royal Academy, Turner exhibited the
painting with lines from his poem Fallacies of
‘L’honneur au Roi de Bavière’:
Who rode on thy relentless car, fallacious Hope?
He, though scathed at Ratisbon, poured on
The tide of war o’er all thy plain, Bavare,
Like the swollen Danube to the gates of Wien.
But peace returns – the morning ray
Beams on the Wallhalla, reared to science, and
the arts,
For men renowned, of German fatherland.

February 2010