Joseph Mallord William Turner

Prague: View in the Old Town Square Looking towards the Kinsky Palace, Tyn Church, Fountain and Column of the Virgin; The Belvedere


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCI 37

Catalogue entry

In this study Turner depicts the Old Town Square in Prague. At centre is Tyn Church, an imposing gothic edifice with twin towers which rise to eighty feet and are topped with a series of tapering pinnacles. ‘Nine’ is inscribed close to a group of these pinnacles, presumably to signify their number. To the left of the Church is Kinsky Palace, an eighteenth century mansion built for a wealthy noble family. The artist has also has written the note ‘No Roof here’ above a building to the right of Tyn. Next to the fountain in the foreground is the Column of the Virgin, erected to commemorate the end of an outbreak of plague which blighted Bohemia between 1713 and 1714. The column is crowned with a statue of the Virgin and a sculptural group of patron saints encircles the plinth. Turner recorded a similar Marian column whilst at Teplitz (Tate D30332; Turner Bequest CCCI 19).
Turner has used the space in the sky at right to sketch the Belvedere, a summer palace located within the imperial Castle complex.
Other drawings of Prague can be found at Tate D30344–D30361, D30364–D30366; Turner Bequest CCCI 25–33a, 36–37. The Prague, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Rhine sketchbook of the same tour holds drawings of the city at Tate D30759–30761, D30764–D30765, D30767, D30771–D30773, D30775–D30777, D30779–D30783, D30788–D30790, D30792–D30803, D30805, D30807–D30811, D30813–D30820; Turner Bequest CCCIV 68–69, 70a–71, 72, 74–75, 76–77, 78–80, 82a–84, 85–91, 92, 93–96, 97–102.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2015

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