Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grevenburg, Looking Downstream from the Approach to Traben; The Grevenburg; Trarbach Church


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 78 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 108

Catalogue entry

Rendered in swift, agile line, these sketches show the weathered and gaunt ruins of the Grevenburg, located atop a vertiginous ridge, ‘high in the heavens’, on the approach to Traben-Trarbach. The Grevenburg was constructed in 1350 by Count Johann III of Sponheim-Starkenburg and was later conquered in 1680 by Louis XIV.1 Turner makes note of the atmospheric effects he experienced as his boat navigated past the Grevenburg and its mighty rock; he writes that there was a ‘Curious Effect of Smoke’ on the river, a ‘Cold Wind’ was blowing, ‘Light Cloud’ hung in the sky, and a ‘dawn Sun’ gleamed. At rear Turner has jotted the tower and steeple of Trarbach’s church, dedicated to St Nicholas.
For drawings of Traben-Trarbach and the Grevenberg dated 1824 see: Tate D19765–D19771, D20186, D20191; Turner Bequest CCXVI 108a–111a, CCXIX 25, 30. For pencil and colour drawings taken in 1839 see: Tate D20234, D20240, D20259, D20275, D28308, D28310, D28190–D28395, D28400–D28401; Turner Bequest CCXXI A, G, Z, CCXXII P, CCLXXXIX 9a, 10a, CCXC 20a–23, 25a–26.

Alice Rylance-Watson
April 2014

Michael Joseph Quin, Steam Voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine, etc., London 1843, p.14 and ‘Grevenburg Castle Ruins’, Mosel Treffpunkt: Traben-Trabach,, accessed 30 April 2014.

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