Joseph Mallord William Turner

Passau Cathedral from the Domplatz

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31371
Turner Bequest CCCX 48 a

Catalogue entry

The Baroque entrance front of Passau’s St Stephen’s Cathedral (Dom Sankt Stephan), as identified by Cecilia Powell,1 is shown fading out towards the right, in accordance with Turner’s time-saving habit of only detailing as much of a symmetrical building as necessary for his own information. The twin west towers lack their subsequent octagonal lanterns and onion domes. On its plinth in the left foreground is the statue of King Maximilian Joseph I of Bavaria, with a carriage beside it and another towards the right; the monument is now flanked by trees.
This is the only occasion Turner visited Passau, and this sketchbook’s views of the city begin a new sequence along his homeward route though Germany, when he took up this sketchbook for the first time since filling its first quarter in Venice. See also folio 49 recto opposite, folios 51 verso–56 verso, 57 verso, 58 recto, 67 verso and 68 verso (D31372, D31377–D31387, D31389–D31390, D31409, D31411). Passau was also the last subject in the Trieste, Graz and Danube sketchbook, after he arrived via the River Danube from Vienna; see Tate D30035–D30036, D30044–D30045, D30054, D30056–D30058; Turner Bequest CCXCIX 17a, 18, 22a, 23, 28, 30, 30a, 31).
Turner also used the larger Passau and Burg Hals book here (Tate D33668, D33674, D33675; Turner Bequest CCCXL 3, 9, 10). Of these, D33668 and D33674 were developed with watercolour, and there are also three pencil, watercolour and gouache works on the separate sheets of grey paper used for numerous subjects in 1840 (Tate D28993, D29006, D33871; Turner Bequest CCXCII 46, 57, CCCXLI 174). These led to one finished watercolour on conventional white paper, Passau, Germany, at the Confluence of the Rivers Inn and Danube (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin).2 He also explored the narrow valley of the River Ilz, which meets the Inn and Danube at their confluence, making drawings around Hals and its ruined castle a little way to the north; see under folio 58 verso (D31391).
For Passau within Turner’s overall itinerary, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.3

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
See Powell 1995, p.243.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.458 no.1317, reproduced.
3
See also Powell 1995, pp.68–9, 157–9.

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