Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bolzano (Bozen), with the Spire of the Cathedral, and the Colle (Kohlern) Mountain to the South-East


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 196 × 282 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVII 10

Display caption

Turner probably drew these two sketches of Bozen in the Tyrol (now the Italian city of Bolzano) from his lodgings. His view is eastwards over the town to the Dolomites, with the elegant Gothic spire and long roof of its fourteenth-century church shown on the right. No.83 was evidently a first attempt to draw the scene, which Turner soon abandoned, concentrating his energies instead on the fine penwork used for the architectural details of no.84. He continued to use this type of grey paper for sketching in a similar style during his fortnight in Venice, 20 August - 3 September, and to depict Passau, Regensburg and Coburg on his return journey through Bavaria.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

As established by Cecilia Powell,1 this as a view across the rooftops of Bolzano (Bozen), the capital of Alto Adige province (otherwise Südtirol or South Tyrol), now in northern Italy but then under Austrian rule. Turner paused here on his meandering route south-eastwards towards Venice. This is a loose, relatively undeveloped variant; its immediate counterpart, Tate D36152 (Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 295), is considerably more advanced in its mountainous background and architectural details, while effectively remaining a study.
As Powell has observed, the two were likely ‘both drawn and coloured in [Turner’s] lodgings, for these provided him with as fine a view of the town itself and the Dolomites as any artist could desire’.2 The tower belongs to the cathedral, and additional details in the other version suggests that the view is to the south-south-east, with the Colle (Kohlern) mountain on the left; see under D36152 for more detailed discussion. Also grouped here are three similar sheets with colour studies of valley castles near the city (D36154–D36156; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 297–299), with related pencil outlines on the versos (respectively D40188, showing Bregenz, at an earlier stage of this route; and D40177–D40178).
Originally described as showing a ‘Mountain pass, with tower’,3 this sheet had nevertheless been included in the ‘Venice: Miscellaneous. (b) Grey Paper’ section of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, albeit among a handful (Tate D32185–D32191; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 6–12) of which he noted ‘some – probably all ... are not Venetian subjects’, but likely ‘done at the same time, and may therefore help to throw light on Turner’s movements.’4 He later annotated his entry: ‘Query Splugen. See Ruskin’s dg. – looking other way’.5 This is an ingenious but spurious reference to the well-known 1842 watercolour of The Splügen Pass (private collection),6 once owned by John Ruskin, which features a similar tower on a crag towards the left; see also its ‘sample study’ (Tate D36125; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 277). In 1930 Finberg noted that ‘some’ of the CCCXVII 6–12 sequence ‘may have been made in the Tyrol on the way to or from Venice’.7 Other than the present sheet and D32191, which may show the Venetian Lagoon, they have since been identified as German subjects, and are addressed in the parallel subsection covering the return leg of the 1840 tour.
See Powell 1995, pp.65–6, 156–7.
Ibid., pp.65–6.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1023.
Ibid., p.1022.
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1023.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.483 no.1523, reproduced.
Finberg 1930, p.175.
Powell 1995, p.157.
See ibid., p.145.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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