Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views on the River Moselle near Trier


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 78 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 271 a

Catalogue entry

A.J. Finberg catalogued this leaf and its recto (Tate D20081; Turner Bequest CCXVI 271) as depicting ‘Views on the River Meuse’.1 This cataloguer has found that the views are in fact of the Moselle and were taken at and near the German city of Trier.
With the sketchbook turned in accordance with the foliation, two tiny prospects can be seen at the uppermost register. Both appear to show Trier from a distance, with diminutive renderings of the city’s celebrated landmarks such as the cathedral, Liebfrauenkirche and the Roman bridge. With the sketchbook orientated to landscape format, Turner has drawn two views of the Moselle and the fertile lower reaches of its cliffs where ‘v’ (vines) grow abundantly. A boatman can be seen at the shoreline. The convent of ‘St Mary les Martyrs’ is recorded in the lower of the two large prospects, and again on Tate D19744; Turner Bequest CCXVI 98. The building is mentioned in Alois Schreiber’s travel guide, and was one of four Benedictine abbeys located at the outskirts of Trier. Schreiber writes that the ‘convent of Marie aux Martyrs... is built on the spot where the castle of the prefects of the palace of Gaul stood, and where many Christians suffered martyrdom’.2 Two other minuscule drawings show what appears to be the profile of Trier, one with the note ‘Wash[er] Wom[en]’ inscribed beneath it.
This sheet was removed from the sketchbook by John Ruskin and remained as a loose, unnumbered leaf when Finberg first came to catalogue it. The book was then reorganised and rebound at some point after 1909, and this leaf was placed in its current position (see the Technical notes section in the sketchbook Introduction).

Alice Rylance-Watson
April 2014

Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.681.
Alois Wilhelm Schreiber, The travellers’ guide down the Rhine: exhibiting the course of that river from Schaffhausen to Holland, and describing the Moselle from Coblentz to Treves with an account of the cities, towns, villages, prospects, etc, London 1825, p.192.

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