Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Ruins of Trutz Eltz above the Eltz Valley near the River Mosel, with Burg Eltz beyond to the South


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 141 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCII 8

Display caption

The region shown here is near Passau in Southern Germany.

Gallery label, July 2004

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Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell has described this subject in detail, calling Burg Eltz, seen to the south in the middle distance on the left, ‘a wonderfully preserved castle which lies about four miles from the [River] Mosel in a highly secluded spot roughly half way as the crow flies between Karden and Burg Bischofstein’ (see D28966; Turner Bequest CCXCII 19, in this subsection), where it ‘crowns an elliptical rock over two hundred feet high overlooking the narrow and tortuous valley of the Eltz, which joins the Mosel at Moselkern’.1 The viewpoint is near the ruins of Trutz Eltz (or Baldeneltz), seen in the foreground, ‘built on the hill immediately opposite’.2
Turner had not drawn the scene on his 1824 and 1839 Mosel tours, although he had made a written note of Burg Eltz among many other attractions on the first occasion, in the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook; see Alice Rylance-Watson’s entry for Tate D19564 (Turner Bequest CCXVI 7).3 Powell has noted that Turner stood at the ‘special viewing station’ built to afford ‘the unexpected experience of looking down upon the numerous turrets and gables of the castle as in a bird’s eye view’ (as still to be seen today among the heavily wooded hills); Turner’s friend and rival Clarkson Stanfield had used the same vantage point for a lithograph in his 1838 publication Sketches on the Moselle, the Rhine & the Meuse.4
In the present work, Turner has used a touch of white for the moon low over the horizon, and others lending a ghostly effect to the lower stages of Burg Eltz, albeit adding more concrete detail to it with pencil on top of this work and the pale colour washes. D28988 (Turner Bequest CCXCII 41) is a variant showing much the same scene from further back above the ruins. Turner apparently went back to Burg Eltz early in the 1840s, making at least five watercolours showing more conventionally dramatic views (private collections).5
For the full range of Mosel subjects associated with the present tour, see the Introduction to this subsection.
Powell 1995, pp.151–2.
Ibid., p.152.
See also ibid., and fig.1.
See ibid., and Muller and Koltz 1984, p.113.
Three are listed in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.460 nos.1333–1335, reproduced, as ?1844; see Powell 1995, pp.183–4 nos.111 and 112 (Wilton nos.1333 and 1334), reproduced in colour, as ?c.1841–2, with details of two addenda to Wilton.
See Powell 1995, p.145.
Ibid., p.154.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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