Joseph Mallord William Turner

Burg Hals on the River Ilz from the North, with Hals Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 150 × 226 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 305

Catalogue entry

As recognised by Cecilia Powell,1 The view is south down the River Itz past the ruins of Burg Hals, towards the spire of St George’s Church in Hals beyond. The slopes around the castle are now heavily wooded;2 it stands on the neck of a tight meander in hilly countryside barely a mile due north of Passau in southern Germany (see under Tate D28993, D29006, D33871; Turner Bequest CCXCII 46, 57, CCCXLI 174, in this subsection).
The castle ruins are the subject of six atmospheric colour studies on both brown and grey papers (see also Tate D24776, D28960, D28997, D29011–D29012; Turner Bequest CCLIX 211, CCXCII 13, 49, 60, 61). They were also drawn in pencil from numerous angles in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (see under Tate D31391; Turner Bequest CCCX 58a), and on Tate D33667, D33669 and D33670 (Turner Bequest CCCXL 2, 4, 5) in the larger Passau and Burg Hals book, D33667 being developed with watercolour. As Powell has noted, D31395 (CCCX 60a) in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg book is directly comparable to the present work. D24776, a slightly smaller study on grey paper, shows the same aspect from further off up the valley, in softer colours, contrasting with the sombre, somewhat oppressive effect here3 (albeit yellow accents suggesting late afternoon light on the ruins appear to have faded).
In 1857, John Ruskin’s only comment on the present work, which he thought of as a River Rhine view, was that it was ‘of very late date’.4
See Powell 1995, p.161.
See also ibid., pp.69, 160–3.
See ibid., p.161.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.315.
Technical notes:
Loose pencil work at the bottom right further defines the hillside and buildings over the colour. The sheet is rather darkened except where the edges were protected by a mount during prolonged display in the nineteenth century. The yellow ochre accents appear somewhat muted for the same reason.
Including this sheet as an example, Cecilia Powell remarked on the ‘striking links’1 between some of Turner’s Venice studies on grey and brown papers and those of German subjects from 1840, comparing this one with the Venetian works in Turner Bequest section CCCXIX. She noted that it too had been ‘drawn on an Italian brown paper that had been used by Turner in Venice just a few weeks earlier’, in particular comparing its effect with that of Tate D32252 (CCCXIX 4), a shadowy interior in the Basilica of San Marco (St Mark’s); the torn edge of Tate D29011 (CCXCII 60), a Burg Hals view on similar paper, matches up physically with another Venetian subject.2
Powell 1995, p.81 note 2.
Ibid., p.161.
See also ibid., pp.69, 81 note 42.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop