Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Burg at Cochem on the River Mosel from the South-East, beyond Sehl

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Dimensions
Support: 140 × 192 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28987
Turner Bequest CCXCII 40

Catalogue entry

Without further comment and for no obvious reason, Finberg’s 1909 Inventory tentatively suggested this as a view of ‘Visp, Rhone Valley (?). A convent in valley – “St. Joseph” – with distant mountains’;1 Visp is in the Swiss Alps and is not a subject as yet otherwise identified among Turner’s works, nor mentioned elsewhere in the Inventory. Oddly, nor is the supposed inscription given there in quotation marks now evident (unless it is now obscured on the laid-down verso), possibly indicating some confusion or conflation of subjects in Finberg’s listing.
Cecilia Powell first published the actual subject.2 Looking down the River Mosel, the view is flanked by the low bank towards Sehl on the left, with the Brauselay rocks inside the right-hand bend opposite. In the distance to the north-west are the ruins of the Burg (since elaborately restored and known as the Reichsburg) south of Cochem, lightly indicated along the riverside below; the hilltop keep of the Winneburg is shown beyond as a pale visual echo of the Burg.
For numerous contemporary studies of Cochem, see under Tate D28950 (Turner Bequest CCXCII 3), a nearer view from the same bank. D28963 and D29020 (CCXCII 16, 69) show intermediate stages of the approach,3 and both feature the spire of Sehl’s Antoniuskirche. It is apparently marked by the pencil cross symbol towards the lower left here, with a study of its actual profile shown as if in the middle of the river at the opposite corner. As Powell has observed, ‘jotting down of details wherever it suited him is a constant feature of Turner’s sketching practice and examples can be found in virtually all of his sketchbooks.’4
For the full range of Mosel subjects associated with the present tour, see the Introduction to this subsection.
1
Finberg 1909, II, p.940.
2
See Powell 1995, p.145.
3
See ibid., p.146.
4
Ibid., p.145.
Technical notes:
Cecilia Powell has noted this as one of the many sheets of grey 1829 Bally, Ellen and Steart paper used on Turner’s 1840 tour, neatly torn as eighths or sixteenths of the overall sheet, with dimensions of around 190 x 280 or 140 x 190 mm, and variously worked with pencil, watercolour and gouache; see the technical notes in the overall Introduction for others.1
1
See ibid.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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