Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Residenz, Würzburg

1840

Not on display

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 104 × 170 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D30598
Turner Bequest CCCIII 72

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell has noted, this somewhat disjointed page of architectural details, drawn with the book turned horizontally, shows aspects of the Residenz,1 the Baroque palace of the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg (now housing a museum and university facilities). The vast building is on a U-shaped plan, with the two matching wings projecting into a broad square east of the city centre. There is a sense of the north-western front of the north wing on the left here, with the central block further off towards the right.
The ‘6’ inscribed towards the bottom left likely indicates the six bays to the left of the wing’s roughly indicated central door. Above to the right is a separate detail of one of the mansard-roofed pavilions at the corners of the wings. Turner’s longstanding habit of employing visual synecdoche, only noting enough details of a large symmetrical façade to stand for the whole, is taken to extremes here, and he perhaps only drew the building out of a sense of an obligation to record the major sights of the city. As Powell has observed, there is no sign that he viewed its Tiepolo frescoes, apparently finding the architecture ‘of minimal interest’.2 Given that the rather jumbled view on the verso (D30599) seems to have been drawn at moonrise, perhaps the light was rapidly failing him here.
For the extensive sequence of Würzburg views in this sketchbook and others elsewhere, see under folio 72 verso opposite (D30596; CCCIII 71).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
See Powell 1995, p.245.
2
Ibid., p.72.

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