Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Reichenbach Falls


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and graphite on paper
Support: 315 × 473 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXV 13

Catalogue entry

Turner’s label for this drawing is inscribed ‘Cascade de Riqenbac. Swiss’. It is numbered ‘6’, as is the drawing. He also listed ‘Fall of the Riquenbach’ among subjects commissioned, in hand or ‘done’ at the front of his album of 1802 dawings (see Technical notes to the Grenoble sketchbook; Tate, Turner Bequest LXXIV).
The Reichenbach Falls, near Meiringen, greatly impressed Turner. He favoured the dramatic upper section of the falls which tumbles down a rock face worn concave by the water. As well as the sketch in the smaller Rhine, Strassburg and Oxford sketchbook that was perhaps his first impression of the site (Tate D04766; Turner Bequest LXXVII 27) he made this larger drawing and two coloured studies (Courtauld Gallery, London and National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), both of which were used for finished watercolours made for Walter Fawkes (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut1 and Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford).2 Both the Courtauld and Dublin studies were once thought to have come from this sketchbook, but Peter Bower has recognised that the first, at least, is on a different paper that Turner used for larger drawings during the 1802 tour. See Introduction and Technical notes to the sketchbook.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.344 no.396.
Ibid., p.341 no.367.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘242’

David Blayney Brown
October 2011

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