Joseph Mallord William Turner

The West Choir and Towers of Trier Cathedral and the Adjacent Liebfrauenkirche


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Graphite on paper
Support: 168 x 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 47 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch is orientated inversely relative to the foliation and continues onto the folio opposite (Tate D28253; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 48). It depicts the west choir and towers of the Cathedral of St Peter (Trier Dom) and the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of our Lady). St Peter’s was raised on Roman foundations, following the Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. After extensive damage in the sixth and tenth centuries the surviving part of the cathedral was enlarged in the Romanesque style in 1035.1 The Liebfrauenkirche, meanwhile, situated next to the cathedral, was constructed in the 1230s over a section of a Roman double church by masons from the Champagne region of France.2
Turner employs bold, angular line to render the structures of the two buildings: handling which seems to describe the cathedral particularly well, given its rather fortress-like exterior.

Alice Rylance-Watson
May 2013

‘Pfarrkirche Leibfrauen-Basilika’, Liebfrauen Trier, accessed May 2013,

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