Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Panoramic View over Passau from near the Oberhaus, East down the River Danube to the Confluence with the Inn and West up the Danube


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 212 × 278 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXL 9

Catalogue entry

This is one half of a double-page spread, the other being the paste-down inside the sketchbook’s back cover (D33675; Turner Bequest CCCXL 10). The two are precisely continuous, indicating that Turner drew this part on the verso of the last free leaf as then bound in the book.1 All the leaves were extracted and separated; some remaining inside the folded covers, others including this one being mounted and exhibited; a direct physical alignment of the two halves is therefore currently impracticable. In any case it may be that Turner decided to treat the present section independently, as it is worked up in fluid washes over the pencil outline, while D33675 was left untinted.
John Ruskin noted of this sketchbook, and doubtless of these pages: ‘One of the pencil sketches is a continuation of a coloured one on another leaf.’2 Cecilia Powell recognised the subject and its two-part aspect, albeit assigning variant titles in terms of the respective orientations, calling this part ‘Passau: View down the Danube’:3 ‘looking down the Danube to its confluence with the Inn (visible on the right) and the Ilz (hidden by the buildings on the left)’.4 The latter are part of the Oberhaus fortress, seen to the east, with the Niederhaus on the bank below, opposite the end of the Altstadt peninsula at the centre of the city, with the twin towers of St Michael’s Church, and the east end of St Stephen’s Cathedral, cut off at what was originally the gutter at the right. Above and between them on the south bank of the Inn are the twin Baroque spires of the Mariahilf church.
The viewpoint is a little west of where a viewing platform off the Unterer Längsweg path along the slopes below the Oberhaus provides a near-equivalent elevated prospect south over the Danube today, albeit obstructed to left and right by thick trees. This part of the scene is complemented by a more finished, atmospheric colour study of the confluence on another page (D33668; CCCXL 3), there seen from the north-east, overlooking the Ilzstadt beyond the mouth of the Ilz on the far side of the Oberhaus. Powell has described the present view as ‘no less magical, with its simple washes of pure colour set off by the whiteness of the page.’5
See Powell 1995, pp.158, 244.
Quoted in Finberg 1909, II, p.1064.
Powell 1995, pp.158, 244.
Ibid., p.158.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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