Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ürzig and the Hermitage on the Michaelslei, Looking Upstream


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 160 × 235 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXIX 23

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts the village of Ürzig on the left and the Michaelslei, a rocky outcrop on one of the surrounding hillsides. The Irish author and traveller Michael Joseph Quin describes it as an attractive destination for tourists, writing:
in the face of a high red cliff called Michaelsley, may be a castellated wall. This wall covers the mouth of a cavern, which was occupied in the olden time by a band of robbers, each of whom, however, claimed to be of some order of knighthood: it was in a later age the residence of a pious hermit.1
Accessible ‘only by means of a succession of ladders’, it is no surprise, then, that Turner only captured it from afar from his boat.
Turner’s handling here is fluid and immediate, especially in his rendering of the crags and fissures of the mountains. He has applied chalk in swift, rough hatches to show the fall of light on the land and water.
Ürzig and the Michaelslei are recorded elsewhere in the 1824 Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook (Tate D19761–D19762; Turner Bequest CCXVI 106a–107) and in drawings belonging to the 1839 tour (Tate D24789, D28404–D28405; Turner Bequest CCLIX 224, CCXC 27a–28).

Alice Rylance-Watson
November 2013

Michael Joseph Quin, Steam voyages on the Seine, the Moselle, & the Rhine: with railroad visits to the principal cities of Belgium, London 1843, p.51.

Read full Catalogue entry

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