Joseph Mallord William Turner



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 163 × 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXC 44

Catalogue entry

This slight and roughly rendered sketch depicts the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, or Festung Ehrenbreitstein, which crowns the lofty heights in the background. A citadel has dominated this site on the east bank of the Rhine opposite the town of Koblenz since the eleventh century.1 Besieged by the French during their revolutionary wars, it was later expanded under the orders of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III between 1817 and 1828 to guard the middle Rhine region.
Ehrenbreitstein was described by Bartholomew Stritch as a ‘gigantic and almost “cloud capt” citadel’ during his 1845 tour of the Moselle and Rhine regions.2 The town of Koblenz, sketched in summary profile in the foreground and middle distance, occupied ‘an advantageous and beautiful position’ at the ‘confluence of the two rivers’.3
Part of the drawing of Mayen on folio 43 verso (Tate D28436; Turner Bequest CCXC 43a) extends onto this page, at the gutter of the sketchbook.
For other drawings of Ehrenbreitstein and Koblenz in this sketchbook see Tate D28351D28353, D28356, D28438–D28447, D28530–D28533; Turner Bequest CCXC 1–2, 3a, 44a–49, 88–89a. See also Enhrenbreitstein in depicted in two other sketchbooks belonging to the 1839 tour: the First Mossel and Oxford (Tate D28297, D28301, D28306, D28316, D28317; Turner Bequest CCLXXXIX 4, 6, 7, 8a, 13a, 14) and the Cochem to Coblenz – Home (Tate D28603, D28605–D28607; Turner Bequest CCXCI 34a, 35a–36a).
For earlier depictions of Ehrenbreitstein see the Waterloo and Rhine sketchbook of 1817 (Tate D12781–D12783, D12802–D12806, D12809; Turner Bequest CLX 42–43, 52a–54a, 56); the Rhine sketchbook of the same date (Tate D12894, D12899, D12901–D12902, D12908; Turner Bequest 7, 10, 11–11a, 15); the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook of 1824 (Tate D19785, D19818–D19821, D19826–D19830; Turner Bequest CCXVI 117 a, 134–135a, 138–140). There are also a number of fine colour drawings depicting the fortress and neighbouring Koblenz, some of which include: Tate D24804, D24809, D24833, D36138, D36206; Turner Bequest CCLIX 239, 244, 268, CCCLXIV 285, 346.

Alice Rylance-Watson
July 2013

‘Festung Ehrenbreitstein’, Koblenz-Touristik,, accessed 11 July 2013.
Bartholomew Stritch, The Meuse, the Moselle, and the Rhine; or, A six weeks' tour through the finest river scenery in Europe, by B.S., London 1845, p.68
Ibid., p.67.

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