Joseph Mallord William Turner

Baden, from the Zürich Road


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 273 × 332 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXX F

Catalogue entry

As Robert Upstone was the first to observe, this watercolour is directly based on a pencil sketch in the Lake Thun sketchbook used in Switzerland in 1802 (Tate D04720; Turner Bequest LXXVI 63). It is one of several recording Turner’s first impressions of Baden as approached from Zürich, with Castle Stein on its crag and the old town in the valley of the River Limmat below.
Finberg was surely right to describe this as an unfinished watercolour rather than a preparatory colour study. Turner chose another view of Baden from the Lake Thun sketchbook for a more developed watercolour, probably datable c.1808 or 1809 (private collection),1 and while usually dated earlier, the Tate version might be contemporary or have been started as an alternative. David Hill considers that ‘neither offers a particularly characteristic view of the site’, tending instead towards an idealised ‘castle on a hill’ composition.2 Indeed the treatment is strikingly classical, with framing trees, glowing horizon and mist hanging over the river in the middle distance.
Not listed by Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979; Upstone p.58 reproduced; Hill 1992, p.149 reproduced in colour.
Hill 1992, p.145.
Technical notes:
The paper is without watermark. The image has not been painted up to the edges of the sheet, leaving a rough, irregular border of untouched white paper.

David Blayney Brown
January 2012

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