Joseph Mallord William Turner

Burg Krämpelstein (Krempelstein), above the River Danube near Passau


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 143 × 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 24

Catalogue entry

This slight but atmospheric subject was identified by Cecilia Powell.1 Looking south-west, the central reach of a short S-bend of the River Danube is shown, with the compact form of Burg Krämpelstein, sometimes given as ‘Krempelstein’, silhouetted at the centre on the Austrian bank above Pyrawang (out of sight to the left). Erlau, on the German side, is indicated or suggested at the lower left, a few miles downriver from the city of Passau, Turner’s next extensive subject, which he reached in mid-September 1840; see under Tate D28993 and D29006 (Turner Bequest CCXCII 46, 57) in the present subsection.
There is a related pencil drawing in the long sequence of subjects observed from the river since Vienna in the contemporary Trieste, Graz and Danube sketchbook (Tate D30037; Turner Bequest CCXCIX 19). The juxtapositions of the castle and the surrounding landscape features there and in the pencil outlines of the present sheet suggest that they were made independently as Turner passed by.
See Powell 1995, pp.69, 81 note 42.
Technical notes:
The treatment is somewhat provisional, with pencil work reinforcing the compositional structure over the loose but controlled washes of colour in places (particularly over the yellow). Cecilia Powell has characterised the sheet’s condition as ‘extremely fragile’,1 which presumably accounts for its not being displayed in her 1995 Turner and Germany exhibition alongside otherwise technically similar works. The thick white gouache at the bottom left, perhaps introduced to suggest the glare of reflections or as the foundation for further work in colour, has flaked off in places.
For discussion of the grey sheets Turner used for this subject among others in the Passau area on grey and brown, see the overall Introduction to the tour.2
Ibid., p.81 note 42.
See also Powell 1995, pp.69, 81 note 42.
Blank, save for a slight dab or offset of yellow ochre at centre right; inscribed in pencil ‘232 | O’ at top left. There is a little brown staining towards the bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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