Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views of Burg Rolandseck, Nonnenwerth and the Drachenfels on the River Rhine

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 138 × 196 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D33911
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 206

Catalogue entry

There are three related views here, one above the other. The largest shows the ruins of Burg Rolandseck on the west bank of the River Rhine, the former nunnery on Nonnenwerth island, and the Drachenfels topped by the ruins of Burg Drachenfels opposite, looking north down the river; compare a sequence in the Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend book (D30505–D30510; CCCIII 24a–27), which Turner used on his return journey. It is also virtually the same view depicted in the 1817 watercolour Rolandswerth Nunnery and Drachenfels (private collection).1 The inscription to the right, tentatively rendered by Finberg as ‘Usuph’,2 remains obscure. Compare a similar note near the Drachenfels on another sheet used on the same occasion (Tate D33901; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 196). Below is a smaller variation, while at the top left is a detail of the Baroque nunnery complex (now a school).
The sheet was among those listed in broad terms by Cecilia Powell, as quoted in the technical notes below, in relation to a group of thirteen similar drawings mostly made along rural parts of the River Rhine. For numerous Rolandseck, Nonnenwerth and Drachenfels sketches and watercolours from 1817 onwards, see under Tate D30500 and D30505 (Turner Bequest CCCIII 22, 24a) in the Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend book.
Among the 1840 sheets, D33907 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 202) shows further variations on the general views, while D33901, D33902 and D33912 (CCCXLI 196, 197, 207) focus on the Drachenfels, and D33908 (CCCXLI 203) shows Rolandseck from the other direction. For the likely sequence of the Rhine subjects in this grouping and the wider context of the tour, see the Introduction to this subsection. The other side, D33899 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 194), shows the market place at Bonn, about ten miles downstream.
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.377 no.666, reproduced.
2
Finberg 1909, II, p.1073.
Technical notes:
The sheet bears the partial watermark ‘B E | 18’ at one edge. In discussing an 1840 River Mosel subject in this subsection (Tate D28998; Turner Bequest CCXCII 50), Cecilia Powell has noted that it ‘originally formed part of the same sheet as eight others of the same size which bear pencil drawings of the Rhine on both recto and verso. These include views of Bonn, the Godesburg, Rolandseck, the Drachenfels, Hammerstein and Burg Rheineck (TB CCCXLI 194–209 [Tate D33899–D33914, of which D33903, D33904 and D33906 are blank]). The sheet is watermarked BE&S / 1829.’1 Apparently indicating that they were still joined in 1909, Finberg noted the ‘following numbers, 194–209, form [sic] part of one large sheet folded into small sections.’2

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
Powell 1995, pp.150–1; see also Karl Heinz Stader, William Turner und der Rhein, Bonn 1981, p.43.
2
Finberg 1909, II, p.1073.
3
See also Powell 1995, p.145.

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