Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Sketches of Ehrenbreitstein


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCIV 17 a

Catalogue entry

Here Turner has rendered three sketches of Ehrenbreitstein, a fortress built atop a rocky promontory overlooking the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers at Coblenz, Germany. Ehrenbreitstein was reconstructed between 1817 and 1828 by the Prussians to guard the strategic middle Rhine region, an area which had been repeatedly attacked by the French.1 The fortress is mentioned in a Canto of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage where Byron refers to the demolition of the old site (see Tate impression T06067) and the historic battles fought there:
Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shattered wall
Black with the miner's blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light;
A tower of victory! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watch'd along the plain:
But Peace destroy'd what War could never blight,
And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rain--
On which the iron shower for years had pour'd in vain.2
For other drawings of Ehrenbreitstein and Coblenz in this sketchbook see Tate D30665D30666, D30806; Turner Bequest CCCIV 18–18a, 92a. For earlier depictions see the Waterloo and Rhine sketchbook of 1817 (Tate D12781–D12783, D12802–D12806, D12809; Turner Bequest CLX 42–43, 52a–54a, 56); the Rhine sketchbook of the same date (Tate D12894, D12899, D12901–D12902, D12908; Turner Bequest 7, 10, 11–11a, 15); and the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook of 1824 (Tate D19785, D19818–D19821, D19826–D19830; Turner Bequest CCXVI 117a, 134–135a, 140). 1839 drawings are found at Tate D28596, D28603–D28607; Turner Bequest CCXCI 31, 34a–36a; the Trèves to Cochem and Coblenz to Mayence sketchbook (Tate D28351D28353, D28356, D28437–D28447, D28530–D28533 and the First Mossel and Oxford sketchbook (Tate D28301–D28303, D28306, D28316, D28317; Turner Bequest CCLXXXIX 6–7, 8a, 13a, 14).
For watercolours see Tate D20261, D24804, D24809, D24833, D25307, D27544, D27553, D28957, D28979, D35863, D36138, D36177, D36186, D36194, D36206, D40181; Turner Bequest CCXXII 13, CCLIX 239, 244, 268, CCLXIII 185, CCLXXX 27, 36, CCXCII 10, 32, CCCLXIV 26, 285, 319, 328, 336, 346, 328a.

Alice Rylance-Watson
November 2015

‘In Der Festung’, Die Festung Ehrenbreitstein, accessed 10 November 2015
Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto III, v.58.

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