Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Tower of the Cologne Rathaus from the Alter Markt, with the East End of the Cathedral Beyond


Not on display

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 CCCIII 20 a

Catalogue entry

The drawing was made with the page turned horizontally. As identified by Cecilia Powell,1 it shows the Gothic tower of Cologne’s Rathaus from the Alter Markt, with the staircase turret on its south side, and a perfunctory indication of the elaborate east end of the cathedral beyond at the left. Extensive war damage and subsequent redevelopment precludes a directly equivalent view today, although the tower retains its distinctive appearance after restoration.
Powell has noted that Turner neared the end of this tour following ‘the familiar route of the Rhine between Mainz and Cologne. He almost certainly travelled by steamer, ... sketching most of the well-known sights perfunctorily as he passed.’2 Given that this sketchbook was used in reverse of its subsequent foliation, she has specified the overall range of this phase as ‘TB CCCIII 68v–20v; 11r’,3 indicating folios 12 recto and 21 verso–69 verso (D30479, D30497–D30592; Turner Bequest CCCIII 20a–68a); see this book’s Introduction for the full itinerary of this part of the journey.
Although this hurried drawing is the only sign of Turner’s presence in 1840, his coverage of Cologne over the years was extensive. See the 1817 Itinerary Rhine Tour, Waterloo and Rhine and Rhine sketchbooks (respectively Tate D12598–D12600, D12602; Turner Bequest CLIX 47, 47a, 48, 49; D12752, D12871–D12873; CLX 27a, 87, 87a, 88; D12981–D12983, D12985, D12987–D12990; CLXI 53–54, 55, 56–58a), the 1824 Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook (D19844, D19846–D19847; CCXVI 147, 148, 148a), the 1825 Holland and Holland, Meuse and Cologne sketchbooks (D19116–D19118, D19120–D19122, D19124–D19125, D19127–D19130, D19145; CCXIV 140–141, 142–143, 144, 144a, 145a–147, 154a; D19452–D19453, D19457–D19460, D19462–D19467, D19508–D19511; CCXV 28a, 29, 31a–33, 34a–37, 65a–67), the 1833 Brussels up to Mannheim – Rhine sketchbook (D29667, D29678–D29679; CCXCVI 36a, 42a, 43), the 1835 Prague, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Rhine sketchbook (D30762–D30763, D30766, D30770, D30772, D30774, D30778; CCCIV 69a, 70, 71a, 73a, 74a, 75a, 77a), and the 1844 Rhine and Rhine Castles sketchbook (D35181, D35184; CCCLI 6a, 8). See also two undated pencil studies on grey paper (Tate D33685; D33918; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 10; CCCXLI 212), and a loose colour study of about 1824–32, unrelated to any finished composition (D25312; CCLXIII 190).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Powell 1995, p.246.
Ibid., p.72.
Ibid., p.82 note 70.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.377 no.669, reproduced.
Ibid., no.670.
Ibid., p.490 no.689a, reproduced.
Ibid., p.380 no.690, pl.172.
Ibid., p.447 no.1232, reproduced.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.141–3 no.232, pl.235 (colour).

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