Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Drachenfels


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 156 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCI 46

Catalogue entry

This sketch shows the Drachenfels (or ‘Dragon’s Rock’) in the Siebengebirge mountain range located between Königswinter and Bad Honnef. The ruined castle atop the mountain is the Burg Drachenfels, built between 1138 and 1167 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne; it was besieged by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War and never reconstructed.1
Turner visited the site in 1817, 1833, 1835, 1839 and 1840, such was its aesthetic charm and contemporary popularity. He recorded it in the Itinerary Rhine Tour and Waterloo and Rhine sketchbooks of 1817 (Tate D12663, D12680, D12756, D12757, D12768–D12775; Turner Bequest CLIX 83a, 92, CLX 29a, 30, 35a–39). Other sketches of the Drachenfels in this sketchbook include Tate D28615, D28616, D28617, D28621–D28623, D28625; Turner Bequest CCXCI 40a, 41, 41a, 43a–44a, 45a. Later sketches can be found in the Wurzburg, Rhine and Ostend sketchbook of 1840 (Tate D30500–D30510, D30513; Turner Bequest CCCIII 22–27, 28a). See also Tate impression T06180, an engraving of Turner’s highly finished watercolour of The Drachenfels (Manchester City Galleries) published in 1833.

Alice Rylance-Watson
August 2013

‘Burg Drachenfels’, Siebenbirge, accessed 13 August 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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