Joseph Mallord William Turner

Passau from the Ilzstadt, above the Confluence of the River Ilz with the Danube


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and graphite on paper
Support: 143 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 174

Catalogue entry

This pencil study shows the prospect south-west over Passau from the open ground above the spire of St Bartholomäus’s Church on the Ilzstadt. The River Ilz flows to the left beyond the church, passing the towers of the Niederhaus overlooking its confluence with the much larger Danube. Above the spire towards the top right is the Oberhaus, looking over the centre of Passau. The tip of the Altstadt peninsula is shown beyond the Niederhaus, with slight indications of the twin towers of St Michael’s Church and, at the centre, the shaded dome of the cathedral. The twin spires of the Mariahilf church are cursorily indicated towards the top left, on the slopes south of the River Inn, itself absorbed by the Danube at the confluence off the near end of the Altstadt. The rivers are loosely picked out in white chalk.
There is a pencil sketch from nearby in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (Tate D31384; Turner Bequest CCCX 55); see under D31371 (CCCX 48a) in that book for its numerous other sketches, and those in two other sketchbooks, including colour studies. All this activity in mid-September 1840 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),1 from an effectively imaginary elevated viewpoint over the Danube south of the one used here.
Tate D28993 and D29006 (Turner Bequest CCXCII 46, 57) are variations on similar sheets of grey paper, with pencil outlines worked up in watercolour and gouache.2 Compare also the more elaborate treatment in a watercolour study of much the same view on the white paper of the Passau and Burg Hals sketchbook (Tate D33668; Turner Bequest CCCXL 3).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.458 no.1317, reproduced.
See Cecilia Powell, Turner in Germany, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1995, pp.158–9 under no.87.
Technical notes:
Scattered brown staining is evident, particularly towards the right. For discussion of the grey paper Turner used for this subject among others in the Passau area on grey and brown, see the overall Introduction to the tour.1
See also ibid., pp.69, 81 note 42.
Blank, save for inscription in pencil ‘233 | O’ bottom right. There are also two separate pencil marks resembling an ‘H’ and a heavier ‘I’ or ‘1’ towards that corner. It is unclear whether these are by Turner; if so, they may be pencil tests.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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