Joseph Mallord William Turner

Regensburg and the River Danube from the Steinerne Brücke


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour, gouache and ink on paper
Support: 194 × 283 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 293

Catalogue entry

The medieval city of Regensburg in southern Germany is shown to the south across the River Danube, looking along the long and busy Steinerne Brücke, as Cecilia Powell recognised, describing the scene as ‘from the northern end of the bridge over the Danube in the very early morning when the sun has caught the tops of the buildings but not yet illuminated anything below roof level’:
On the left are the west towers of Regensburg cathedral (the open-work caps crowning them today were not built until 1859–69), the massive Salzstadel (salt barn) and – at the end of the bridge itself – the tall Brückturm or bridge tower. To its right Turner shows many further towers of the city, above an array of old houses and numerous boats. These include the Goliath House, the Golden Tower and the town hall. Despite the early hour, many people are already on the move on the bridge, going about their daily tasks.1
The vehicle in the foreground appears to be ox-drawn. Maurice Davies used the composition as an example in his study of Turner’s use of perspective, as a variation on the traditional vanishing point: ‘The perspective centre can be placed to one side of the picture, implying the artist was not at the centre of the picture when it was produced’.2 He also observed: ‘Sometimes Turner used central perspective to focus the composition in a single direction, but on other occasions he provided other “routes” for the eye to follow’, as here.3
Turner made numerous pencil drawings around Regensburg in the contemporary Venice, Passau to Würzburg book; see under Tate D31311 (Turner Bequest CCCX 18a). Compare in particular views over the river on D31351, D31359, D31361, D31363, D31365 (CCCX 38a, 42a, 43a, 44a, 45a).
As discussed in the technical notes, the present study is one of seven of Regensburg and the nearby Walhalla at Donaustauf (see also Tate D32185, D34081, D34084–D34085, D34093, D36153; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 6, CCCXLI 360, 363, 364, 371, CCCLXIV 296) which were initially eighths of a single sheet; D36151 (CCCLXIV 294) is a closely related view on similar paper, from east of the bridge, tinted to suggest an evening effect. Powell has described their ‘sombre colours, sometimes articulated by dark penwork. The gravity ... exactly reflects the prevailing mood of Regensburg itself’,4 albeit Turner subsequently introduced a typically radiant effect to a watercolour on white paper from a nearby viewpoint, identified by Ian Warrell as ‘Regensburg from the Danube, with the Cathedral and Stone Bridge, at Sunset’5 (traditionally ‘Lyons’; Victoria and Albert Museum, London);6 see the Introduction to this subsection for other Regensburg watercolours.
See Powell 1995, p.165.
Davies 1992, p.64.
Ibid., p.65.
Powell 1995, p.70.
See Ian Warrell, ‘Turner in Regensburg, 1840: Conflagration and Catholicism’, Turner Society News, no.123, Spring 2015, p.6.
As given (albeit with discussion of other possibilities) in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.487 no.1555, pl.256
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.626.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1198.
See Wilton 1974, pp.154, 157, 160; see also Stainton 1981, p.142, Wilton 1982, p.58, and Powell 1995, pp.81 note 2, 166, 169.
Wilton 1982, p.58.
Powell 1995, p.166.
See ibid., pp.165, 167–8.
See also ibid., p.145.
See Bower 1999, pp.105, 107 no.59, with one side of the overall arrangement reproduced in colour p.69, the other in black and white p.106.
As noted in Powell 1995, p.165.
Bower 1999, pp.105, 107.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like