The setting is the Marktplatz in Bonn, looking south-east towards the Baroque Altes Rathaus, with its prominent coat of arms set between dormer windows with a clock below, and a ground-floor doorway in an arched alcove between flanking staircases. The focus of the scene is the Marktfontaine obelisk, with travellers or traders and large dogs beside a heavily laden cart; the gabled buildings on the right do not survive in this form.
The subject was indentified by Karl Heinz Stader, who characterised the figures as ‘eine Gruppe von Bauern mit einer Schubkarre, einem mit Säcken beladenen Gefährt und zwei Hunden, die als Zugtiere verwandt wurden’ (a group of farmers with a wheelbarrow, a vehicle loaded with sacks and two dogs, which were used as draft animals). On the last point, he noted: ‘Ältere Bonner warden sich daran erinnern können, daß noch in den Dreißiger Jahren Hunde beim Ziehen von Obst- und Gemüsekarren und den Wagen von Altwarenhändlern mithelfen mußten’ (older people in Bonn will remember that even back in the 1930s, dogs helped to draw fruit and vegetable carts and those of second-hand dealers).1
The subject has also been confirmed among those listed in broad terms by Cecilia Powell, as quoted in the technical notes below, in relation to a group of thirteen similar drawings mostly made along rural stretches of the Rhine; the river is a few minutes’ walk beyond the Rathaus. D33900 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 195), a similar sheet, shows nearby aspects of Bonn, and includes a small study perhaps showing a dog pulling a barrow guided by its master.
There are scattered drawings of the city from the river, associated with Turner’s earlier tours. See the 1817 Itinerary Rhine Tour and Waterloo and Rhine sketchbooks (Tate D12667, D12750, D12864, D12868–D12870; Turner Bequest CLIX 85a, CLX 26a, 83a, 85a, 86, 86a), the 1824 Rivers Meuse and Moselle book (D19841–D19842; CCXVI 145a, 146), the 1833 Brussels up to Mannheim – Rhine book (D29663; CCXCVI 34), and the 1839 Cochem to Coblenz – Home book (D28624; CCXCI 45).
Stader 1981, p.43, with present author’s translation.
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