Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna; Details of its Towers


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 127 × 198 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCIX 9 a

Display caption

This is one of three almost identical sketchbooks which Turner bought on his way to Venice in 1840, all composed of Austrian-made paper with a fake Whatman watermark (the others are no.65 and TB CCCXIII). He left Venice on 3 September and used this sketchbook for a week thereafter to record his homeward journey across the gulf of Trieste, through southern Austria to Vienna, and then down the Danube to Germany. He reached Vienna on 7 September. It was probably there that he saw some of the lithographs in Jakob Alt's famous series on the Danube (1819-26) and drew his twelve tiny copies of them which are such a notable feature of this sketchbook.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, the left-hand half comprises the more detailed of the two main views here, showing St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, as identified by Cecilia Powell.1 The viewpoint is the west side of Stephansplatz, and the main axis of the building runs north-west to south-east; on the left is about half of the symmetrical west front, with its tall central window and the arch over the central doorway, flanked by one of the two elaborate towers, the top of which is continued to its right. Below to the right is the west end of the southern aisle, with its large rose window.
From there, the south side recedes towards the south-east and the tower and spire over the south transept, with details of its upper stages to the right. Turner also shifted the page downwards temporarily, and continued the upper stages of the spire, aligned to its full height alongside unrelated castle views on folio 8 verso (D30017). Buildings on to the south of the cathedral are loosely indicated at the bottom centre.
With the page turned vertically, at the top is a view from south-west of the cathedral’s west end, with its two towers loosely indicated at the left, looking along the south side of the building with the south tower and the high roofline over the nave indicated only in outline. To the right is the corner of a building with rusticated quoins, apparently the Baroque Lazanskyhaus, which has not survived on the south side of the square; the whole façade is shown on folio 40 recto (D30076), under which other Vienna views are noted.2

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Powell 1995, p.242.
See also pp.66, 81 notes 24, 26.

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