Joseph Mallord William Turner

Linz; Rolandseck and Drachenfels

1824

Not on display

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 118 x 78 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D19840
Turner Bequest CCXVI 145

Catalogue entry

These cursory sketches show aspects of the towns of Linz and Rolandseck and the Drachenfels (‘Dragon’s Rock) hill, at the summit of which lies the vestiges of Drachenfels Castle. Pictured in profile in the uppermost sketch, the castle dates back to the 1130s and was constructed to defend the Archbishop of Cologne’s territories. Protestant Swedes bombarded it in 1634 during the Thirty Years War and the fortress was left in ruins. Dragon’s Rock and its castle were slowly eroded by time, weather and quarrying, and yet, owing to its decaying appearance, the site gained aesthetic importance, becoming an icon for the so-called ‘Rhine Romanticism’ movement. Poets such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Lord Byron wrote about Drachenfels, the latter including it in the Third Canto of his Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812–8):
   The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossom’d trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scatter’d cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strew’d a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me.1
Parts of Linz, meanwhile, are depicted in the details near top right: the Rhine Gate at right, with a mansard-type roof, and the conical tower of Linz Castle, with its narrowly tapering spire, at right. At centre Turner records a riverboat with nimble handling, and includes two small figures by the side of the vessel. A church can be seen in the background, possibly that dedicated to St Martin at Linz. The lowermost views are very slight and show either Linz or Rolandseck and the Drachenfels at rear from the river.
The Rolandseck and Drachenfels are depicted elsewhere by Turner in the following: Tate D12572, D12768–D12775, D12863, D12866–D12867, D12885, D12887, D28615–D28616, D28623, D28625–D28626, D29715, D30500–D30506; Turner Bequest CLIX 30a, CLX 35aa–39, 83, 84a, 84a–85, CLXI 2, 3, CCXCI 40a–41, 44a, 45a–46, CCXCVI 61a, CCCIII 22–25. See also Tate impression T04779 for an engraving after Turner’s illustration of Rolandseck and Drachenfels for Campbell’s Poetical Works, and Tate impression T06180 for an engraving after Turner’s watercolour of Drachenfels of 1830 (Manchester City Galleries).2 In addition, there are two other highly finished watercolour drawings in the collection of the Courtauld Gallery, London and at the Cantor Arts Centre, Stanford University, California.3

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2014

1
George Gordon Byron, Bt., Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto The Third, stanza LV; see the full poem online at Project Gutenberg, accessed 14 June 2014, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5131/5131-h/5131-h.htm#link2H_4_0005
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.445 no.1216.
3
Ibid, pp.377 no.667 and 378 no.675 respectively.

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