Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Pont du Château and the Bock, Luxembourg

c.1839

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 140 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20249
Turner Bequest CCXXI P

Display caption

As a result of his travels in 1839 Turner painted a series of over a hundred small gouache scenes, not only of the Meuse and Mosel but also of other notable sights in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. These were not drawn on the spot, directly from nature, but at Turner’s leisure, based on the pencil sketches gathered in his sketchbooks. They were executed on small pieces of blue paper, about the size shown here (roughly 14 x 19 cm), which he created by folding large sheets and then tearing or cutting them into sixteen.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

This drawing incorporates some of Luxembourg’s most celebrated monuments and fortifications. At left Turner pictures the two-storey Pont du Château which connects the old town with the Rocher du Bock and the citadel of Saint-Esprit, the focal point of this composition, depicted at centre. The Alzette River, meanwhile, is not itself shown but instead ‘suggested by vaporous blue haze’ which creeps up the gorge and obscures the middle reaches of the Bock. 1 Part of Luxembourg’s Grund district occupies the foreground and includes St John’s Church, with its spire so tapering it appears almost needle-sharp, and the Porte de Trèves, a medieval gateway, further towards the right.
As Cecilia Powell writes, the gouache is based on a number of pencil sketches in the Givet, Mézières, Verdun, Metz, Luxemburg and Trèves sketchbook of 1839. Most of the ‘main ingredients’ are found on folios 32 verso, 33 recto, and 60 verso (Tate D28228–D28229, D28274; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 32a–33, 60a).2 Powell points out, however, that in this drawing ‘Turner’s viewpoint in the gouache is much higher than in any of these [sketches]’.3
For other of Turner’s 1839 gouaches of Luxembourg see Tate D20244–D20248, D20264, D20270, D20272–D20273, D20284–D20285, N05240; Turner Bequest CCXXI K–CCXXI O, CCXXII E, CCXXII K, CCXXII M–CCXXII N, CCXXII Y–CCXXII Z.
1
Powell 1991, p.178 no.124.
2
Ibid.
3
Ibid.
Verso:
Inscribed in white chalk or gouache ‘18’ and in pencil ‘1a’, ‘1/4’ at centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXI P’ at bottom centre; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXI P’ beneath, at bottom centre.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

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