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 on paper
Support: 211 × 273 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXL 10

Catalogue entry

This paste-down is one half of a double-page spread, the other being (D33674; Turner Bequest CCCXL 9). The two are precisely continuous, indicating that Turner drew them while the other page was still bound in the sketchbook.1 All the leaves were extracted and separated, D33674 now being mounted, making a direct physical alignment of the two halves currently impracticable. Turner perhaps decided to treat the other half independently, as it is worked up in fluid washes over the pencil outline, while this part 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 up the Danube’.3 The viewpoint is a little west of where a viewing platform off the Unterer Längsweg path along the slopes below the Oberhaus fortress provides a near-equivalent elevated prospect south over the river today, albeit obstructed to left and right by thick trees.
The river runs in the foreground, receding upstream under the lightly indicated arches of the Maxbrücke, since replaced by the Schanzlbrücke a little further off. On the Altstadt peninsula beyond it, the most prominent structure is the tall tower of St Paul’s Church. The twin west towers of St Stephen’s Cathedral, since extended upwards and topped with onion domes, are shown almost incidentally at the left-hand edge, formerly the gutter; the greater part of the building is continued on the other page. The broad, loosely outlined feature among the hills above St Paul’s is the River Inn, approaching from the south-east (where it marks the border between Austria on the left and Germany on the right), before curving eastwards to the confluence with the Danube, shown in the other half of the view.
There is a similar (albeit disjointed) panoramic view from a little to the west in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (Tate D31409, D31411; Turner Bequest CCCX 67a, 68a). For other views of Passau from this tour, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.
See Powell 1995, pp.158, 244.
Quoted in Finberg 1909, II, p.1064.
Powell 1995, p.244; see also p.158.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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