Joseph Mallord William Turner

Schaffhausen; the Rhinefall and Laufen Castle from the River Bank


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 559 × 722 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXIX E

Catalogue entry

See notes to D04875; Turner Bequest LXXIX A for Turner’s series of five large drawings of the Rhine and Rhinefall at Schaffhausen, made from the banks of the river below the falls. Here, Turner looks across to Laufen Castle.
Turner made a watercolour, much elaborated from this drawing, for engraving by J.B. Allen for The Keepsake in 1833. The watercolour (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)1 was acquired after Turner’s death in 1851 by John Ruskin, who had made his own vivid and turbulent drawings of the Rhinefall in 1842 (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts).2 In an effusive passage in Modern Painters, Ruskin described how Turner had manipulated his composition ‘to give swing enough to the water’ as the fall ‘is straight and monotonous in reality’, and animated the foreground with figures and narrative: although everything in the finished version ‘exists on the spot ... the combinations are wholly arbitrary; it being Turner’s fixed principle to collect out of any scene, whatever was characteristic, and put it together just as he liked’.3 Turner made a fresh series of watercolours at Schaffhausen in 1841, which Ruskin may not have known.
Wilton 1979, p.345 no.406.
Ian Warrell, Through Switzerland with Turner: Ruskin’s First Selection from the Turner Bequest, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1995, pp.14–15 reproduced in colour fig.4.
E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume VII: Modern Painters: Volume V: Completing the Work, and Containing Parts VI. Of Leaf Beauty–VII. Of Cloud Beauty; VIII. Of Ideas of Relation: 1. Of Invention Formal; IX. Of Ideas of Relation: 2. Of Invention Spiritual, London 1903, pp.211–12.
Technical notes:
For the paper and preparation see D04875
Laid down

David Blayney Brown
January 2012

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