Joseph Mallord William Turner

Passau across the River Danube, from near the Oberhaus, with the Cathedral and St Paul’s Church; Dettelbach am Main


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCX 68 a

Catalogue entry

Turner used this page horizontally for two unrelated subjects, both identified by Cecilia Powell.1 The main view was drawn first, and shows Passau’s central Altstadt peninsula to the south across the River Danube. The viewpoint is the steep slopes west of the Oberhaus fortress, hidden by trees on the left. The nearest prominent building on the far side is St Paul’s Church, with the cathedral’s central onion dome and west towers (since extended upwards and given similar domes) beyond, and the twin spires of St Michael’s Church further on again towards the eastern tip of the Altstadt and the confluence with the River Inn. The view is continued westwards to the right on folio 67 verso (D31409), where the Inn is shown in the distance. Albeit disjointed, this panoramic prospect complements another from a little further east in the larger contemporary Passau and Burg Hals sketchbook (Tate D33674–D33675; Turner Bequest CCCXL 9–10). For other views of Passau, see under folio 48 verso (D31371).

The other way up at the gutter, there is a view shows the towers of Dettelbach,2 a walled medieval town on the north bank of the River Main about ten miles east of Würzburg, focusing on the distinctively unequal domed towers of St Augustine’s Church, seen from the south; the smaller tower houses a spiral staircase linked via a covered walkway to the top of the other. The church is shown in less detail from a similar angle on folio 51 recto (D31376), along with a view of Würzburg itself, the last identified subject in this sketchbook.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Powell 1995, p.244.
See also ibid., pp.72, 82 note 66.

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