The Castle of Bischofstein, perched atop a sheer ridge overlooking the Moselle, is an arresting sight for any tourist sailing this stretch of the river. When the travel writer Michael Joseph Quin set eyes upon it from the deck of his steamer in the early 1840s, he noticed ‘its tall cylindrical donjon tower’ marked at the top with ‘a well-defined white streak’, a feature suggested here in Turner’s picture.1 This white band, according to Quin, is ‘a particularity attributed by the people of the country to an inundation, during which the waters... ascended to the altitude of that cincture’.2
The castle cuts a rather brooding figure in this drawing, enclosed on all sides by rust, wine, and teal coloured cliffs. Dark amber and pale yellow gouache is used to lighten the foreground. Turner’s handling is gestural, creating an evocative and impressionistic vision of this ancient monument.
There has been some fading and discolouration of the pigment and support due to exposure to sunlight following the picture’s exhibition.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXCII–70’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘114 b’ at centre right and ‘CCXCII 70’ at bottom right.
- River Mosel(336)