Joseph Mallord William Turner

Burg Bischofstein above the River Mosel


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 141 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 19

Catalogue entry

Finberg’s 1909 Inventory incorrectly suggested this as a view of ‘Clotten’;1 see the contemporary colour study of Klotten and Burg Coraidelstein (Tate D28967; Turner Bequest CCXCII 20), roughly ten miles up the River Mosel from the actual scene here.
Cecilia Powell has instead identified this elemental subject as centring on the ruins of Burg Bischofstein, standing high above the Mosel opposite Burgen, with the Pauluskapelle rather less conspicuous down the hill to the left; the river runs north-east towards the right, and the castle is viewed from the south, ‘transformed by the setting sun, but cast[ing] a sinister shadow on the hillside behind it.’2 The tower is seen in silhouette from a different angle in a gouache on blue paper associated with Turner’s 1839 tour (D29021; CCXCII 70).3
See also the 1824 Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook (Tate D19802–D19803; Turner Bequest CCXVI 126, CCXVI 126a), the 1839 First Mossel and Oxford book (D28314, D28316, D28319; CCLXXXIX 12a, 13a, 15) and the Cochem to Coblenz – Home book of that year (D28562–D28566; CCXCI 13a–15a). Powell has noted that one of the latter pencil sketches, D28564, shows much the same view as here.4
For the full range of Mosel subjects associated with the present tour, see the Introduction to this subsection.
Finberg 1909, II, p.938
Powell 1995, p.153.
See ibid., pp.140, 153.
Ibid., p.153, with reproduction.
Technical notes:
Fluid pink and mauve shadows contrast with the thick yellow gouache of the sunlit slopes. Cecilia Powell has compared the colours with those in the view of Klotten mentioned above (Tate D28967; Turner Bequest CCXCII 20),1 and described ‘a burst of gold comparable to those in some of Turner’s Venetian scenes on grey paper of the same year’, such as Tate D32212 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 27),2 a view on the Grand Canal.
Powell has noted this as one of the many sheets of grey 1829 Bally, Ellen and Steart paper used on Turner’s 1840 tour, neatly torn as eighths or sixteenths of the overall sheet, with dimensions of around 190 x 280 or 140 x 190 mm, and variously worked with pencil, watercolour and gouache; see the technical notes in the overall Introduction for others.3
Ibid., p.150.
Ibid., p.153.
Ibid., p.145.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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