Joseph Mallord William Turner

Heidelberg, Moonlight: Sample Study


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 241 × 300 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 325

Display caption

Like nos.123-4, this work is a 'sample study', a type of drawing which was an intermediate stage between a sketch drawn from nature and a watercolour painted in the studio. In the 1840s Turner circulated many such studies among a small group of his friends and patrons in the hope of attracting commissions. No.130 is stylistically similar to others in the Bequest but it did not, after all, lead to a watercolour. Although Heidelberg's principal church and its famous castle are immediately recognisable, the relationship between river and town is not satisfactorily resolved. Turner may simply have put the drawing aside rather than circulating it.

Gallery label, September 2004

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