Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Market Place, Coburg


Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 192 × 279 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVII 8

Catalogue entry

Turner was in Coburg, then capital of the German Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, between 17 and 20 September 1840, and made many pencil drawings of the town and its surroundings in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook; see under Tate D31278 (Turner Bequest CCCX 1a). Cecilia Powell identified the present colour study, comparing it with one of the small pencil sketches on D31278 and describing the scene:
In this view from the west, Coburg’s town hall is on the right and the Stadthaus, another municipal building ... on the left, while the dark spire of St Moritz can be seen towering over the east side of the square. All these are shown very impressionistically, though Turner has clearly indicated the historic oriels which project at the corners of both municipal buildings and has emphasised the horizontal divisions which are such a prominent feature of the eighteenth-century façade of the town hall.1
Powell further observed that ‘the square itself is teeming with activity’, with figures ‘clustered around fires, evidently cooking bratwurst in exactly the same spot as is used today for this very purpose.’2
This is one of four colour studies on grey paper around Coburg, which can all be related to Venice; Passau to Würzburg pencil sketches (see also Tate D32186, D32188 and D32190; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 7, 9, 11); there are additionally three loose watercolours on conventional white sheets (D35889, D35948, D36187; CCCLXIV 49, 105, 329).3 Inge Herold has also described this as among ‘the freest and most impressionistic’ of such studies: ‘In combination with the grey paper the subdued, delicate colors produce a hazy, misty mood like that of an early fall morning.’4
Originally described as simply showing a ‘Market place’,5 this sheet had nevertheless been included in the ‘Venice: Miscellaneous. (b) Grey Paper’ section of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, albeit among a handful (Tate D32185–D32191; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 6–12) of which he noted ‘some – probably all ... are not Venetian subjects’, but likely ‘done at the same time, and may therefore help to throw light on Turner’s movements.’6 In 1930 he noted that ‘some ... may have been made in the Tyrol on the way to or from Venice’.7 Other than D32189, a view of Bolzano (Bozen) from the outward leg, and D32191, which may show the Venetian Lagoon, they have all since been identified as German subjects from 1840’s return journey, and are included in this subsection (see also the technical notes).
Powell 1995, p.169.
Ibid., p.170; see also Herold 1997, p.106.
See also Powell 2001, p.50.
Herold 1997, pp.106–7.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1022.
Finberg 1930, p.175.
See Powell 1995, p.169.
See ibid., p.145.
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.
Powell 1995, p.168; see also p.81 note 2.
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.
Powell 1995, p.154.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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