Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Rocks of the Bastei and its Bridge, Looking Southwards


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 104 × 170 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCVI 49 a

Display caption

Turner acquired this sketchbook in Dresden just before his tour of Saxon Switzerland, a region of huge, curiously shaped fingers and cliffs of grey sandstone formed by millennia of erosion. This had become a favoured destination of artists and tourists in the late eighteenth century when it was given its name by two Swiss painters working in the Saxon capital. Turner probably spent three days in this area, arriving back in Dresden on 24 September. The Bastei consists of an astonishing group of giant pinnacles overlooking the Elbe just south of Dresden, linked by a high bridge which provides an experience as thrilling as any 'devil's bridge' in Switzerland itself.

Gallery label, April 1995

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