Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hals and Burg Hals above the River Ilz, from the South


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 142 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 13

Catalogue entry

Burg Hals is shown high above the village of the same name along the neck of a tight meander of the River Ilz,1 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). As recognised by Cecilia Powell, the view here is due north from the hills just outside the city, with the spire of St George’s Church aligned below the jagged castle keep, framed by the river running north to the left and back south again on the right. The tower of nearby Burg Reschenstein is shown beyond to the left.2 The church, the ruins and reflections from the water are picked out in white against the soft colours of the landscape; with slight indications of figures sharing the elevated viewpoint towards the bottom left.
The castle ruins are the focus of six atmospheric colour studies on both brown and grey papers (see also Tate D24776, D28997, D29011–D29012, D36162; Turner Bequest CCLIX 211, CCXCII 49, 60, 61, 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 variant from a little lower and further forward to the left; D31405 (CCCX 65a) in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg book is a detailed study of the castle from about the same angle, while D33669 and D33670 show similarly elevated wider prospects from further east.
Finberg tentatively identified the present subject as ‘? Schloss Eltz’,3 a dramatically situated castle near the River Mosel, which Turner happens to have drawn on his outward journey in 1840 (see Tate D28955, D28988; Turner Bequest CCXCII 8, 41). Tate D28959 (Turner Bequest CCXCII 12), coupled with this sheet in the 1909 Inventory4 on account of their being exhibited together in the First Loan Collection, is technically similar, but the subject is unrelated, albeit on a loosely comparable theme.
See also Powell 1995, pp.69, 160–3.
See ibid., p.163.
Finberg 1909, II, p.938; see Powell 1995, p.163.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.938.
See also Powell 1995, pp.69, 81 note 42.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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