- Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
- Part of
- The Route from Venice: Passau; Regensburg and the Walhalla; Coburg and Schloss Rosenau; Würzburg
- Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
- Support: 147 × 224 mm
- Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 61
As recognised by Cecilia Powell,1 Burg Hals is shown high above the village of the same name along the neck of a tight meander of the River Ilz,2 in hilly wooded countryside barely a mile due north of Passau in southern Germany, which Turner reached in mid-September 1840 (see under Tate D28993, D29006, D33871; Turner Bequest CCXCII 46, 57, CCCXLI 174, in this subsection). The view here is to the north-east from the hills just outside the city, with the castle ruins caught in golden sunset beams above raw blues in the valley, and the spire of St George’s Church towards the bottom right; a stroke of white below the castle hints at the river.
The ruins are the focus of six atmospheric colour studies on both brown and grey papers (see also Tate D24776, D28960, D28997, D29011, D36162; Turner Bequest CCLIX 211, CCXCII 13, 49, 60, CCCLXIV 305). They were also drawn in pencil from numerous angles in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (see under Tate D31391; Turner Bequest CCCX 58a), and on Tate D33667, D33669 and D33670 (Turner Bequest CCCXL 2, 4, 5) in the larger Passau and Burg Hals book, D33667 being developed with watercolour.
Compare in particular D28997, a more finished view from this angle on a slightly smaller sheet of pale grey paper, with its tints suggesting calm sunlight, and figures conversing in the left foreground. The loose cluster of marks in the foreground here likewise suggests two or three people gathered on the brow of the hill. D29011, on a similar sheet, presents the scene more dramatically, with the surrounding landscape evoked through colour alone, its blues merging with low cloud in a lurid sky, seemingly evoking the beginning or end of the day (albeit both works appear to have been affected and perhaps coarsened by water damage, as discussed in the technical notes below).
Pencil has been used over the colour to add a little detail to the castle ruins.
As is more evident from the back, the sheet is slightly wrinkled, likely as a result of the 1928 Tate Gallery flood, which also appears to have caused the gouache in the sky to run unevenly, creating an unintended mottled effect where the bare paper shows through.
Ian Warrell, ‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 11) in Warrell, David Laven, Jan Morris and others, Turner and Venice, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2003, p.259; see also ibid., sections 9 and 10.
See also Powell 1995, pp.69, 81 notes 2 and 42.