Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Drachenfels, Looking up the River Rhine to Rolandseck


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 104 × 170 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCIII 22

Catalogue entry

The drawing was made with the page turned horizontally. As identified by Cecilia Powell,1 it shows the Drachenfels hill beyond small beached boats on the east bank of the Rhine, topped by the ruins of Burg Drachenfels, looking up south up the River Rhine to the ruins of Burg Rolandseck in the distance on the right.
Powell has noted that Turner neared the end of this tour following ‘the familiar route of the Rhine between Mainz and Cologne. He almost certainly travelled by steamer, ... sketching most of the well-known sights perfunctorily as he passed.’2 Given that this sketchbook was used in reverse of its subsequent foliation, she has specified the overall range of this phase as ‘TB CCCIII 68v–20v; 11r’,3 indicating folios 12 recto and 21 verso–69 verso (D30479, D30497–D30592; Turner Bequest CCCIII 20a–68a); see this book’s Introduction for the full itinerary of this part of the journey.
The Drachenfels is also shown on folios 23 verso–28 recto and 29 verso (D30501–D30510, D30513; CCCIII 22a–27, 28a). For other views, see the 1817 Itinerary Rhine Tour, Waterloo and Rhine and Rhine sketchbooks (respectively Tate D12663, D12680; Turner Bequest CLIX 83a, 92; D12756–D12757, D12760–D12763, D12768–D12775, D12860, D12862–D12864, D12866–D12867; CLX 29a, 30, 31a–33, 35a–39, 81a, 82a–83a, 84a, 85; D12885, D12887; CLXI 2, 3), the 1824 Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook (D19840; CCXVI 145), the 1833 Brussels up to Mannheim – Rhine sketchbook (D29632, D29663, D29681, D29684–D29685, D29715; CCXCVI 18a, 34, 44, 45a, 46, 61a), the 1835 Prague, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Rhine sketchbook (D30642–D30643, D30680, D30682, D30769, D30791; CCCIV 6a, 7, 27, 28, 73, 84a), the 1839 Cochem to Coblenz – Home sketchbook (D28615–D28617, D28621–D28623, D28625–D28626; CCXCI 40a–41a, 43a–44a, 45a, 46), and the 1844 Ostend, Rhine and Berne sketchbook (D41449; CCCXXVII 27). There are also two undated pencil studies on separate sheets (D34367, D34374; CCCXLIV 24, 31).
It features in three 1817 watercolours: Rolandswerth Nunnery and Drachenfels (private collection);4 The Drachenfels (Courtauld Gallery, London);5 and Drachenfels from the Rhine (Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University).6 The 1830 watercolour The Drachenfels (Manchester Art Gallery)7 was engraved for Byron’s Works in 1833 (Tate impression: T06180).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Powell 1995, p.246.
Ibid., p.72.
Ibid., p.82 note 70.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.377 no.666, reproduced.
Ibid., p.377 no.667, reproduced.
Ibid., p.378 no.675, reproduced.
Ibid., p.445 no.1216, reproduced.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.454 no.1285, as ‘Rolandseck’, reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop