Joseph Mallord William Turner

Trarbach from the Grevenburg


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 139 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXI Z

Catalogue entry

This drawing depicts Trarbach from the Grevenburg, a castle situated, as Michael Joseph Quin writes, ‘high in the heavens, upon an abrupt ridge of rocks’.1 The towers, which point vertically towards the expansive sky, belong to the Trarbach’s network of fortified walls: ‘there are three gates’, writes Quin, ‘in good preservation, surmounted by towers, which add much to the chivalrous aspect of the place’.2
As Cecilia Powell notes, the work shares a similar colour palette to Tate D20240; Turner Bequest CCXXII G, but ‘is executed in a far denser way with gouache predominating throughout’.3 The pale apricot, dusty rose and orange pigments used to render the town are almost milky in their opacity, creating a bold tonal contrast between Trarbach and the distant mountain peaks of blue and mauve wash.
The artist recorded this prospect in the fourth of the five 1839 sketchbooks, on Tate D28400; Turner Bequest CCXC 25a. This view is taken from the opposite angle to three other Trarbach gouaches: see Tate D20240, D20259, D20275; Turner Bequest CCXXI G, Z, CCXXII P.
Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.14.
Powell 1991, p.138 no.59.
Inscribed in pencil ‘101’ at centre and ’24?l’ centre right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

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