Würzburg, as Finberg recognised,1 is seen from just east of the Käppele pilgrimage church, looking down from the Nikolausberg over the valley of the River Main. High on the left to the north is the Marienberg fortress, with the domes and spires of the city to the north-east on the opposite bank. In the foreground, small domes mark the series of Baroque pavilions containing sculptures of the Stations of the Cross lining the long sequence of steps and terraces approaching the church.
Turner was recorded in Würzburg on 23 September 1840, and after rounding off the southern German pages of his Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook with a view from his hotel (Tate D31376; Turner Bequest CCCX 51), he filled about a quarter of his tour’s final book, Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend, with a thorough survey in and around the picturesque city; see under Tate D30596 (Turner Bequest CCCIII 71). There are two also watercolour and gouache studies on blue and grey papers (respectively Tate D36157, D36158; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 300, 301), one in pencil on blue (D25101; CCLXII 1), and two related pencil drawings on larger sheets of white (the present work and D34516; CCCXLIV 152). All show the Marienberg on the left, with the city below to the east, as do two watercolours (currently untraced;2 National Museum Wales, Cardiff3), ‘similar in size to TB CCCXLIV 151 and 152 and ... probably painted over pencil sketches drawn on the spot’, as Cecilia Powell has noted.4 D34516 is a close variant of the present view, this time including the Käppele.
Powell pictured ‘a point when Turner could bear the confinement of his small sketchbook no longer’,5 and these views on separate sheets are independent of those in the Würzburg, Rhine and Ostend book. The Marienberg appears many times within it, but only D30620 (CCCIII 83) shows it with the city from the south, from down on the east bank of the Main; D30630 (CCCIII 88) is among sketches showing the distant Käppele beyond the fortress to the south-west, looking back in this direction.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.1120.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.459 no.1321, as ‘Ehrenbreitstein and Coblenz’, c.1840, pl.242 (colour).
Ibid., no.1322, as ‘Ehrenbreitstein and Coblenz’, c.1840, reproduced; Powell 1995, p.174 no.105, as ‘Distant View of Würzburg from the South’, c.1840–1, reproduced in colour p.175.
Powell 1995, p.174.
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.1065, 1082.
- townscapes / man-made features(21,710)
- River Main(36)