‘This work has eluded identification in the past’, writes Cecilia Powell, largely owing to ‘the indistinctness of its topography, barely visible through the layers of impasto’.1 In her 1991 catalogue, however, Powell proposes that the view in fact shows the Burg Thurandt and also the town of Alken, on the Moselle in Germany. The Burg Thurandt was the feudal stronghold of Henrich, the brother of King Otto IV. It was constructed in 1197 upon his return from the Crusades.2
Turner colours the mountains and castle with broad and thick applications of pale apricot, yellow and lavender gouache. Architectural features such as the gate tower at Alken and the ancient town walls are partially delineated in orange line. The foreground is largely left unpainted, with the exception of the large and craggy boulders rendered in translucent brown wash. Cursory strokes of pen and sepia ink mark the striations and textures of the rocks.
Powell 1991, p.147 no.75.
‘Geschichte’, Burg Thurant, accessed 17 September 2013, http://www
.thurant .de /GESCHICHTE /tabid /58 /language /en -US /Default .aspx
Inscribed in red ink, possibly by Ruskin, with numerals at bottom left; these have been partly obscured following mounting. Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXCII–72’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘117 b’ lower centre towards right; inscribed in chalk ‘x 3’ towards top centre.