Joseph Mallord William Turner

River Danube Views Copied from Prints: Theben (Devín) Castle, near Pressburg (Bratislava); Pressburg; Direct Views of Burg Greifenstein


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 198 × 127 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCIX 13 a

Catalogue entry

Turner used this page vertically both ways up for four subjects, the lower two being inverted relative to the upper. As discussed in the Introduction, Cecilia Powell has noted that fifteen of the views in this sketchbook (folios 10 recto, 11 recto, 12 verso, 13 recto and this page; D30020, D30022, D30025–D30027) are thumbnail sketches from existing prints, mostly lithographs by Jakob Alt (1789–1872), likely seen in Turner’s Vienna hotel,1 from Adolf Kunike and Alt’s Donau-Ausichten vom Ursprunge bis zum Ausflusse in Meer (‘Danube views from its source to the sea’), issued between 1819 and the mid 1820s.2 Only the upper two studies here are from that sequence.
At the top is Theben Castle (locally Devín; Alt, plate 127),3 at the western tip of Slovakia, then on the Austro-Hungarian border between Vienna (see under folio 40 recto; D30076) and Pressburg, just to its east. Below is a view of Pressburg itself (now Bratislava, the Slovakian capital), dominated by its castle (Alt, plate 128).4 Bratislava is some thirty miles downriver east of the Austrian capital, the furthest east Turner ventured on this occasion5 or indeed on any other.
The other way up are two of Turner’s original sketches of Burg Greifenstein, on the south bank of the long curve of the Danube near Sankt Andrä-Wördern, roughly ten miles north-west of central Vienna; for other views, see under folio 11 verso (D30023). Although his route upriver was straightforward, his somewhat haphazard use of this book to record it was not. For the geographical sequence of identified views between Vienna and Passau (see under folio 31 recto; D30058), see this sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Powell 1995, pp.66–7, 81 note 27.
See ibid., pp.13, 67, 143, 240.
See ibid., p.241.
Ibid., p.241.
See ibid., p.81 note 28.

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