Here Turner represents what Cecilia Powell calls ‘the quintessential Moselle view of two villages on the river bank facing each other under a lofty ruined castle’.1 Traben is on the left bank and Trarbach on the right, with the ruined Grevenburg Castle presiding over the valley from atop a mount. A flying bridge can be seen on a spit of sand at Traben. Turner unites the two Moselle villages compositionally with the hollowed remains of the Grevenburg by colouring all three with brilliant white gouache, accented with pink, burgundy and mauve.
The paper for this drawing traditionally was assumed to be the ‘same Bally, Ellen & Steart flecked blue wove watercolour paper used for all the other works in the series’, the paper historian Peter Bower writes.2 In fact, ‘when the work was removed from its old backing it was found to have been worked on a white wove watercolour paper, very similar to those made by John Muggeridge at Carshalton Mill, Surrey’.3 Turner subsequently ‘made the sheet a mottled blue appearance, approximating the blue of Steart’s papers’.4 Bower points out that ‘Although Turner worked on prepared papers with various coloured grounds, particularly pale greys, throughout his career, this is the only example of him “faking” a paper’.5
The verso of the sheet is spotted with three pale blue circles, possibly of watercolour wash, forming a slight arc and extending from the centre of the right edge to the top centre.
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCXXII–P’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXII–P’ bottom centre, ‘28a’ centre towards top and ‘3’ (inverted) top centre towards right.