Joseph Mallord William Turner

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


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 140 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 49

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 (shared by figures conversing in the foreground) is to the north-east from the hills just outside the city, with houses (barely differentiated from the ruins) and the spire of St George’s Church below to the right, and the river running past to the south.2 The buildings are picked out in vivid white against the soft colours of the landscape.
The ruins are the focus of six atmospheric colour studies on both brown and grey papers (see also Tate D24776, D28960, D29011–D29012, D36162; Turner Bequest CCLIX 211, CCXCII 13, 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 D28960, a variant from a little higher and further back to the right, so that the river is seen passing the near side of the castle too; D31403 (CCCX 64a) in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg book is a detailed study of the ruins and houses from about the same angle, while D33669 and D33670 show similarly elevated wider prospects from further east. D29011, on a slightly larger sheet of warm grey-brown paper, is a looser version of the present view, with less pencil work and a dramatically lit sky; D29012, on a similar sheet. presents the scene with the top of the castle caught in lurid sunset light above raw blues in the valley (albeit both works appear to have been affected by the 1928 Tate Gallery flood).
Powell has described the ‘clear blue and turquoise green’ Turner used here as ‘close to those found in some of his Venetian scenes on grey paper (e.g. TB CCCXVII 20 [Tate D32205]). The resemblance is perhaps not surprising, given that Turner visited and sketched Burg Hals soon after leaving Venice’.3
See also Powell 1995, pp.69, 160–3.
See ibid., p.163.
See also ibid., pp.69, 81 note 42.
Ibid., p.154.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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