Joseph Mallord William Turner

Trarbach from the South


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 137 x 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXX P

Catalogue entry

This work was originally catalogued by Cecilia Powell as ‘Alken and the Burg Thurandt from the North’, owing to its resemblance to another of Turner’s pencil sketches of that subject.1 The drawing has since been re-identified as a view of Trarbach, taken from the hillside path to Bernkastel.2 Turner’s vantage point for this drawing is similar to Tate D20240; Turner Bequest CCXXI G, but in this case the prospect is taken from a point higher in the hillside and further away from Trarbach.
Here Turner depicts part of a precariously narrow path leading to Bernkastle, the track carved into the very edge of a sheer ridge. A few figures trudge this rocky trail, hunched with heavy bundles on their backs. The hillside path is in full shade, coloured with softly smudged maroon, violet and burnt orange pigments. A view of Trarbach opens up beyond, rendered, by contrast, in luminous yellow-apricot. The town’s architecture and the rocky topography which surrounds it is finely delineated in rust red, hairline strokes of ink. The spire of the Church of St Nicholas can be seen rising loftily at centre, and directly above it is the ruined Grevenburg Castle, ‘high in the heavens, upon an abrupt ridge of rocks’.3
Powell 1991, p.147 no.76.
Powell 1995, p.129 no.49.
Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.14.
Technical notes:
There has been some fading and discolouration of the pigment and support due to exposure to sunlight following the picture’s exhibition.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXX P’ at bottom centre; inscribed in pencil ‘2’ and ‘6’ at centre and ‘CCXX P’ at bottom towards right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

Read full Catalogue entry

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