Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Wirbel and Hausstein, on the River Danube


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 198 × 127 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCIX 37 a

Catalogue entry

With the vertical page used both ways, there are three variant views on the River Danube here, as identified by Cecilia Powell.1 The compact Burg Hausstein is seen on its islet (both gone) near the south bank, overlooking the Wirbel (‘whirlpool’) rapids, not far upriver from Sankt Nikola (see folio 38 recto opposite; D30072). The castle is also shown in two further slight sketches on the recto (D30070); see also the 1833 Salzburg and Danube sketchbook (Tate D30253–D30254; Turner Bequest CCC 62a, 63).
Discussing Turner’s Danube route between folios 31 verso–38 recto (D30059–D30072;2 like much of this sketchbook, apparently used in reverse of their present foliation), Cecilia Powell has observed that within a brief stretch of two or three miles his ‘most intensive sequence of sketches, occupying fourteen pages, was made during the steamer’s cautious passage upstream from St Nikola to Grein, past the Wirbel and the Strudel’;3 these hazardous whirlpools, shown on old maps respectively east and west of Struden and nearby Burg Werfenstein, no longer exist following the elimination of associated rocks to improve navigation later in the nineteenth century.
Although Turner’s route upriver was straightforward, his somewhat haphazard use of this book to record it was not. For the geographical sequence of identified views between Vienna and Passau (see under folios 40 recto and 31 recto; D30076, D30058), see this sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Powell 1995, p.241.
See ibid., p.81 note 32.
Ibid., p.68.

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