Joseph Mallord William Turner

Burg Rheinfels from the Hillside at Sankt Goar, Looking Downstream with Burg Maus in the Distance

1839

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 100 x 163 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28455
Turner Bequest CCXC 53

Catalogue entry

From a hillside viewpoint Turner has depicted part of the expansive and palatial Burg Rheinfels at Sankt Goar. The Burg Katz (Tate D28454; Turner Bequest CCXC 52 a) lies on the opposite side of the Rhine. Both castles were built by the Counts of Katzenelnbogen, the Rheinfels slightly earlier than the Katz in 1245, on the site of an older fortification.1 The crenellated shield and curtain walls and tower in Turner’s sketch appear almost in layered succession, evoking the impregnable monumentality of the place.
The Burg Maus (Mouse Castle) can be seen in the distance, at the crest of a mount where the Rhine meanders out of view. The Maus belonged to the electors of Trier and was constructed in the fourteenth century to enforce that city’s recently acquired Rhine toll rights and to secure its territories against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen who owned the Castles Rheinfels and Katz (Cat).2
The Burg Rheinfels is depicted elsewhere in this sketchbook on Tate D28456, D28457, D28506, D28507, D28509, D28510; Turner Bequest CCXC 53a, 54, 78a, 79a, 79c, 79d. Turner recorded the castle extensively in the Rhine sketchbook of 1817 (Tate D12918–D12923, D12930–D12932, D12935–D12937, D12952–D19260; Turner Bequest CLXI 21a–24, 26–27a, 29–30, 37a–42). See also the 1841 colour sketch (private collection).3

Alice Rylance-Watson
July 2013

1
‘History of the Castle’, St Goar, http://www.st-goar.de/734-1-geschichte-burg-rheinfels-1.html, accessed 23 July 2013.
2
‘Burg Maus’, Welterbe Oberes Mittelrheintal, http://www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.de/index.php?id=104, accessed 23 July 2013.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.459 no.1327.

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