Joseph Mallord William Turner

Burg Hals, on the River Ilz near Passau


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 212 × 277 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXL 2

Catalogue entry

This dramatic scene was initially described simply as including a ‘Swiss Fortress’,1 and by 1904 as ‘Drachenfels’,2 referring to the familiar ruins of Burg Drachenfels upriver of Bonn on the Rhine, which it only resembles generically (see under Tate D30500; CCCIII 22, in the contemporary Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend sketchbook). Finberg noted the latter identification, but called it ‘Ruined castle on rock’.3
The actual subject was eventually published by Cecilia Powell.4 The jagged ruins of the medieval Burg Hals are seen to the south-east, high up on a neck of land overlooking the tightly meandering River Ilz, here flowing towards the foreground; the slopes below the castle are now wooded. The village of Hals descends to the river beyond towards the spire of St George’s Church (restored after the Second World War). The Ilz passes the castle again on the far side of the ridge as it approaches the confluence with the Danube and the Inn at Passau, about two miles to the south east; compare complementary colour studies from that side on separate grey and brown sheets (Tate D24776, D36162; Turner Bequest CCLIX 211, CCCLXIV 305).
Hals and the castle are seen to the north from the higher ground in the distance here, outside Passau, in two pencil sketches in the present book (D33669–D33670; CCCXL 4, 5); for further discussion and other pencil drawings and colour studies from this tour, see this sketchbook’s Introduction.
In 1857 John Ruskin called this and D33668 (CCCXL 3) ‘Two of the best of [Turner’s] last sketches on white paper.’5
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, pp.313, 367.
See ibid., p.630; see also p.313 footnote 3.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1064.
See Powell 1995, pp.69, 160–1, 244.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.313.
Technical notes:
There is a slight nick to the bottom edge towards the right.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘2’ right of centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXL – 2’ towards bottom centre.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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