Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Marienberg and Würzburg from the Stationsweg below the Käppele

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: 189 × 277 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D36158
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 301

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell first recognised, this is a view of Würzburg from near the Käppele pilgrimage church,1 looking down from the Nikolausberg over the valley of the River Main. Directly to the north is the Marienberg fortress, with the pale city loosely indicated to the north-east on the opposite bank. Small domed Baroque pavilions line the long sequence of steps and terraces approaching the church from the north-east; as Powell noted: ‘Steps, balustrades and volutes belonging to one of the chapels over the Stations of the Cross are all sketchily indicated on the left, but the church itself with its three onion domes lies beyond the edge of the paper.’2
There are several similar courtyard-like cobbled levels with open pavilions containing devotional statues at the sides and ends, one being shown towards the top left, possibly with a kneeling figure. Large trees now flank the central Stationsweg pathway and staircases; in combination with Turner’s apparent manipulation of perspective in the unresolved foreground, this makes the exact viewpoint difficult to determine. The scene is brightly illuminated by early afternoon sunlight, with various features highlighted in white against the clear sky.
Turner was recorded in Würzburg on 23 September 1840, and after rounding off the southern German pages of his Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook with a view from his hotel (Tate D31376; Turner Bequest CCCX 51), he filled about a quarter of his tour’s final book, Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend, with a thorough survey in and around the picturesque city; see under Tate D30596 (Turner Bequest CCCIII 71). There are two watercolour and gouache studies on grey and blue papers (respectively the present work and Tate D36157; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 300), one on blue in pencil alone (D25101; CCLXII 1), and two variant pencil drawings on larger sheets of white (Tate D34515, D34516; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 151, 152). All show the Marienberg on the left, with the city below to the east, as do two similar watercolours (currently untraced;3 National Museum Wales, Cardiff4), ‘probably painted over pencil sketches drawn on the spot’, as Powell has noted.5
1
See Powell 1995, p.176; see also p.174.
2
Ibid., p.176.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.459 no.1321, as ‘Ehrenbreitstein and Coblenz’, c.1840, pl.242 (colour).
4
Ibid., no.1322, as ‘Ehrenbreitstein and Coblenz’, c.1840, reproduced; Powell 1995, p.174 no.105, as ‘Distant View of Würzburg from the South’, c.1840–1, reproduced in colour p.175.
5
Powell 1995, p.174.
6
Ibid., p.72.
7
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.1065, 1082.
1
See Powell 1995, p.169.
2
See ibid., p.145.
3
See also Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, pp.105, 107, for discussion of another such group, comprising seven Regensburg and Walhalla views included in the present subsection.
4
See Wilton 1974, p.157.
5
Finberg 1909, II, p.1022.
6
Powell 1995, p.168; see also p.81 note 2, and p.176.
7
See Ian Warrell, ‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 11) in Warrell, David Laven, Jan Morris and others, Turner and Venice, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2003, pp.258 (under 1833), 259 section 8.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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