Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Marienberg and Würzburg from the Terrace of the Käppele


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 191 × 278 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 300

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell first recognised, albeit in passing,1 this is a view of Würzburg from the terrace of the Käppele pilgrimage church, framed by the southernmost of the twin Baroque towers on its east front, 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. Domed pavilions containing sculptures of the Stations of the Cross line the long balustraded sequence of steps and terraces approaching the church. The shallow diagonal edge of the deep shadow across the fortress, with only part of it illuminated against the glowing sky, suggests an early morning effect.
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 blue and grey papers (respectively the present work and Tate D36158; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 301), one on blue in pencil alone (D25101; CCLXII 1), and two variant pencil drawings on larger sheets of white (D34515, D34516; CCCXLIV 151, 152). All show the Marienberg on the left, with the city below to the east, as do two watercolours (currently untraced;2 National Museum Wales, Cardiff3), ‘probably painted over pencil sketches drawn on the spot’, as Powell has noted.4
Powell pictured ‘a point when Turner could bear the confinement of his small sketchbook no longer’,5 and the views on the separate sheets are independent of those in the Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend book. The Marienberg appears many times within it, but only D30620 (CCCIII 83) shows it with the city from the south, from down on the opposite bank of the Main; D30630 (CCCIII 88) is among sketches showing the distant Käppele beyond the fortress to the south-west, looking back in the opposite direction.
See Powell 1995, p.174.
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).
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.
Powell 1995, p.174.
Ibid., p.72.
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.1065, 1082.
See ibid., pp.1198–9.
See Wilton 1974, p.157.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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