Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Mäuseturm

1839

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 100 × 163 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28492
Turner Bequest CCXC 71 a

Catalogue entry

Here Turner has made a slight sketch of the Mäuseturm or Mice Tower, a stone tower located on a small island in the Rhine near the town of Bingen. The building gained its name from a tenth-century folk tale involving Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz. Reputedly an oppressive and avaricious ruler who exploited the peasants in his domain and denied them grain during a famine, Hatto was besieged by an army of mice for his sins and eaten alive by the rodents in the tower.1 In 1298 the structure was used as an official customs collection tower for the Castle of Ehrenfels nearby (Tate D28493; Turner Bequest CCXC 72). Centuries later, in 1689, the Mäuseturm was destroyed by French armies; it was rebuilt in 1855 as a Prussian signal tower.2

Alice Rylance-Watson
July 2013

1
‘The Mouse Tower’, from Lilian Gask, Folk Tales from Many Lands, New York 1910, pp.186–192, http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gask/tales/MOUSE.html, accessed 28 July 2013.
2
‘Mouse Tower and the Bingen Hole’, Bingen: Perspektiven am Rhine, http://www.bingen.de/en/2/sehenswuerdigkeit_maeseturm.html, accessed 28 July 2013.

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