Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dettelbach am Main; the Market Place, Würzburg from the Wittelsbacher Hof Hotel

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31376
Turner Bequest CCCX 51

Catalogue entry

There are two distinct subjects here, as identified by Cecilia Powell.1 The smaller drawing, made with the page inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, shows the towers of Dettelbach, a walled medieval town on the north bank of the River Main about ten miles east of Würzburg, with the distinctively unequal domed towers of St Augustine’s Church to the north; the smaller tower houses a spiral staircase linked via a covered walkway to the top of the other. These features are shown in more detail from a similar angle on folio 68 verso (D31411).
The rest of the page is occupied by a horizontal drawing made in Würzburg itself. It is the last identified location in this sketchbook, which had been used somewhat unsystematically from Passau onwards (see the Introduction) and was now effectively full; the artist began afresh with an extensive survey of the city in his last sketchbook of the tour, Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend. See under Tate D30596 (Turner Bequest CCCIII 71) in the latter book for the full Würzburg sequence, and related works including contemporary watercolours, and drawings from the 1835 German tour.
Powell has noted that Turner was recorded in a local journal on 23 September as staying at the Wittelsbacher Hof,2 in the ‘Renaissance Casteller Hof building which functioned from 1830 to 1945’ as a hotel (now a bank), at the west end of the Marktplatz: ‘From here he looked out at the buttressed side of the Gothic Marienskapelle on the left and over the obelisk fountain to the majestic dome and octagonal bell-tower of the Neumünster, his view closed by the spires of the cathedral’3 fading out in the distance to the south-east on the right. The range at the far end of the square has since been rebuilt, although the roofline remains similar. Compare a more detailed view of the Marienskapelle from a similar angle in the Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend book (Tate D30615; Turner Bequest CCCIII 80a).
1
See Powell 1995, pp.72, 82 notes 66 and 67, 243.
2
See ibid., pp.72, 82 note 68.
3
Ibid., p.72.
Technical notes:
There is some brown staining at the gutter, offset to or from folio 50 verso opposite (D31375), and perhaps dating from the 1928 Tate Gallery flood.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Read full Catalogue entry

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