Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mountains with a Distant Tower, ?between Trieste and Graz; Cargo Boats, Perhaps at Ljubljana or on the River Danube


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 127 × 198 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCIX 49

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, the main view is a loose ‘carriage sketch’ along a mountain valley towards the tiny but eye-catching form of what appears to be a distant tower. In her checklist of Turner’s Austrian and German subjects in this sketchbook, Cecilia Powell noted that ‘those drawn on his journey from Trieste to Graz’ (see respectively under folios 57 recto and 41 verso; D30109, D30079) were ‘listed in the briefest possible way’.1 As set out in the book’s Introduction, the general flow of Turner’s itinerary is in reverse of the Turner Bequest foliation, and the relevant part of the journey lies between folios 55 recto and 49 recto (D30094–D30106).
The rapid views including mountains and castles await specific identification, though it should be noted that they are preceded in the notional sequence by views on the River Danube from later on the journey (on folios 55 verso–56 recto; D30107–D30108), while folio 53 recto is annotated by the artist as another ‘Danube’ subject. By the same token it seems likely that the relatively detailed study of cargo barges at the outer edge was made at a subsequent stage. Alternatively, in identifying the urban view on folio 48 verso opposite (D30093) as Ljubljana, Slovenian art historian Jakob Klemenčič has suggested that the craft may have been observed at the city’s port area on the River Ljubljanica.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Powell 1995, p.240.

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