Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Moselle from the Hillside at Pallien, Looking Upstream with the Roman Bridge in the Distance and Trier Hidden behind the Trees on the Left


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour, gouache and chalk on paper
Support: 220 × 291 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVIII 10

Display caption

This sketchbook and another used on the Mosel in 1824 were the first ones with soft covers Turner took on a foreign tour. In these he made his more ambitious sketches in the towns where he stopped, sometimes finishing his work in colour. In both sketchbooks he prepared the pages with a grey wash so that his coloured drawings show a strong continuity, in technique as well as vision, with his depictions of the Rhine in 1817. In this distant view of Trier from across the Mosel Turner contrasts the vivid energy of nature - clouds and cliffs, trees and bushes - with the stability of Germany's oldest city, lying placidly at the centre.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

This is a similar view of Trier to Tate D20146; Turner Bequest CCXVIII 8, but here Turner has sketched from further downstream on the banks of the Moselle at Pallien. The artist was clearly moved by the scene before him to create such a dynamic drawing: vigorous and textural in handling and richly chromatic. Verdant trees and tangled shrubbery frame a view of the ancient Römerbrücke, the vegetation rendered with fern, dark olive, umber and rust pigments in immediate, gestural brush-strokes. A vast sky streaked with fast-moving cirrus completes the view, a compliment to the textured greenery below and a further embodiment of nature’s vitality.
Turner drew similar scenes of Trier from Pallien in this sketchbook on Tate D20149, D20151; Turner Bequest CCXVIII 11, 13. See also the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook of 1824 (Tate D19729, D19733–D19738; Turner Bequest CCXVI 90a, 92a–95) and the later watercolour and gouache drawing of 1839 (Tate D24715; Turner Bequest CCLIX 150).

Alice Rylance-Watson
December 2013

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