Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Iron Forges of Quint


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 139 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 258

Display caption

Although most of Turner's Mosel drawings depict historic towns and ruined castles, his subject matter in nos.50 and 51 is very different. No.50 shows the flourishing factories at Quint, handled with the bravado and brilliance such a theme deserved. No.51, based on a pencil sketch inscribed 'Napoleon passed here', employs a far softer palette and more delicate handling, perhaps chosen deliberately to show the unspoilt and peaceful countryside through which Napoleon and his armies had forced their way at the beginning of the century. In 1839 Turner did not, of course, see the temporary bridge of boats used by the French, but nevertheless imagined it very vividly.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Here Turner shows the flourishing industrial town of Quint, situated on the banks of the Moselle. The view is based on preliminary pencil sketches in the Trèves to Cochem and Coblenz to Mayence sketchbook (Tate D28419; Turner Bequest CCXC 35). Quint gained its name from its situation as ‘the fifth milestone on the Roman road from Trier to Andernach’, according to Cecilia Powell.1
Two vividly striated cliffs frame the town in Turner’s picture, the rocks here streaked with rust, amber and terracotta gouache and red ink. The ‘lofty chimneys’ of Quint’s forges can be seen belching out smoke in the valley: the town’s chief industry at the time of Turner’s visit was the ‘smelting of iron ore’ which abounded ‘in the neighbouring mountains’.2 Long barges are moored at the river’s edge awaiting their cargo.
Powell 1995, p.126 no.44.
Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.302.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLIX–258’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘?25’ centre and ‘CCLIX 258’ bottom right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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