This drawing incorporates some of Luxembourg’s most celebrated monuments and fortifications. At left Turner pictures the two-storey Pont du Château which connects the old town with the Rocher du Bock and the citadel of Saint-Esprit, the focal point of this composition, depicted at centre. The Alzette River, meanwhile, is not itself shown but instead ‘suggested by vaporous blue haze’ which creeps up the gorge and obscures the middle reaches of the Bock. 1 Part of Luxembourg’s Grund district occupies the foreground and includes St John’s Church, with its spire so tapering it appears almost needle-sharp, and the Porte de Trèves, a medieval gateway, further towards the right.
As Cecilia Powell writes, the gouache is based on a number of pencil sketches in the Givet, Mézières, Verdun, Metz, Luxemburg and Trèves sketchbook of 1839. Most of the ‘main ingredients’ are found on folios 32 verso, 33 recto, and 60 verso (Tate D28228–D28229, D28274; Turner Bequest CCLXXXVIII 32a–33, 60a).2 Powell points out, however, that in this drawing ‘Turner’s viewpoint in the gouache is much higher than in any of these [sketches]’.3
Inscribed in white chalk or gouache ‘18’ and in pencil ‘1a’, ‘1/4’ at centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXI P’ at bottom centre; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXI P’ beneath, at bottom centre.