Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Ruined Monastery at Wolf


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 141 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 152

Display caption

The solitary ruins of Wolf form an impressive sight as the traveller approaches Traben and Trarbach down the Mosel, particularly at sunset. The river winds its way through the hills in one of the loops for which it is so famous and travellers following its course see the spectacular ruins from an ever-changing succession of viewpoints.

Gallery label, August 1991

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Catalogue entry

Here Turner shows the solitary ruins of the monastery at Wolf perched atop the vertiginous Gockelsburg peak. The waters of the Moselle are placid and shimmering beneath the soaring cliffs, and the scene is pervaded with rather eerie stillness. For the traveller and author Michael Joseph Quin, the ruins of Wolf ‘formed a most striking object’ to the eye as he sailed toward them, appearing to him as the ghosted ‘remains of Christian antiquity’.1 Quin made the same journey as Turner, enjoying the ‘ever-changing succession of viewpoints’ of the Wolfer Kloster as the Moselle wound ‘its way around the Gockelsburg in one of the loops for which it is so famous, leaving the village of Kröv to its west’.2
Turner recorded a sequence of views of this subject on Tate D28403; Turner Bequest CCXC 27. One of these small pencil sketches corresponds closely to the present gouache. That small sketch bears Turner’s inscription ‘Beaut[iful] Light’ where the artist had applied golden gouache to depict the glowing sandspit at lower left. This luminous pigment contrasts boldly with the deep ‘velvety’ teal and cerulean blue of the Moselle.3
Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.13.
Powell 1991, p.136 no.56.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLIX–152’ at centre towards bottom right; inscribed ‘24a’ and ‘CCLIX 152’ at centre right and bottom right respectively.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

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