Joseph Mallord William Turner

Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg

c.1840

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 244 × 306 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35889
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 49

Catalogue entry

Finberg tentatively described the subject of this sunlit watercolour study as ‘River, with trees and castle on hill (? Rosenau)’;1 the identification was confirmed by Andrew Wilton.2 Turner was in Coburg, then capital of the German Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, between 17 and 20 September 1840, and made many drawings of the town and its surroundings in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook; see under Tate D31278 (Turner Bequest CCCX 1a). He also went out to see Schloss Rosenau, in countryside beside the River Itz about four miles to the north-east (see under D31318; CCCX 22),3 making several of sketches of this relatively modest house and its elevated setting among trees above the river.
These informed his large oil painting of Schloss Rosenau, Seat of H.R.H. Prince Albert of Coburg, near Coburg, Germany, exhibited at the Royal Academy the following year (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).4 Britain’s young Queen Victoria had married her cousin Prince Albert, who was born at the castle, in London on 10 February 1840, a few months before Turner’s tour. As Coburg and Rosenau involved a definite if minor departure from his ongoing homeward route, this suggests that Turner was already considering such a subject, although if he had hoped for royal patronage he was to be disappointed.5
As Cecilia Powell has observed: ‘It was not Turner’s usual practice to make watercolour studies as intermediate preparatory works ... However, this work provides a rare example of him doing just this’, being based on D31318, and ‘testifies to the great care with which Turner planned the painting’.6 (See the ‘Studies Related to Oil Paintings c.1819–46’ section of the present catalogue for a few other instances.) She has itemised the key aspects of the composition’s three-stage development:
In the coloured sketch Turner has already relieved his scene of the rather congested area of trees and architecture to the right of the Schloss which his pencil sketch had carefully recorded on the spot. The left-hand part, however, relies closely on the pencil sketch and does not include the tall tree with the silver trunk that adds such grandeur to the final painting. The stream is still confined to the middle distance and left-hand foreground and none of the human participants has yet made an appearance.7
1
Finberg 1909, II, p.1181.
2
See Wilton 1982, p.57.
3
See also Powell 1995, p.82 note 65.
4
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.241–2 no.392, pl.396 (colour); see also disputed version (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), p.279 no.442, pl.397, and Joll 2001, p.280.
5
See Wilton 1982, p.57; see also Powell 1995, pp.72, 176–8.
6
Powell 1995, p.172.
7
Ibid., p.172.
8
See also Powell 2001, p.50.
9
Powell 1995, p.174; see also p.72, and Wilton 1982, p.57.
10
See Powell 1995, p.173.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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