J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Mayen in the Eifel c.1839

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Mayen in the Eifel c.1839
Turner Bequest CCXXI U
Gouache and watercolour on blue wove paper, 141 x 188 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXXI U’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Here Turner shows the town of Mayen, situated to the west of Koblenz. The silhouette of the Genovevaburg, painted here in rather glaring black wash, dominates the view at centre. Formidable in its scale and proportions, the fortified castle was constructed for the Archbishops of Trier between 1280 and 1311.1
A section of Mayen’s medieval wall, including the Brückentor, is visible in the foreground at bottom right. Drawn in hairline strokes of brown gouache over translucent teal and yellow wash, the fortified walls appear almost spectral, described in faint and fading line. St Clement’s Church, celebrated for its twisted spire, is visible at far right and highlighted with the briefest smudge of white gouache.
Neither the Moselle nor the Rhine flows through Mayen. Rather, it is situated inland, within the Eifel plateau and between the two rivers. This irregularly undulating volcanic mountain plateau is depicted cradling the town in Turner’s picture, coloured in soft peach and maize yellow gouache. The sky is rendered in two strata of colour: the uppermost ‘layer’ is a band of chalky rose-pink gouache, flecked with pale yellow to represent wisps of cirrus clouds. Below, is a band of translucent mauve and pink watercolour, applied wet on wet, the colours merging and pooling onto the blue paper.
Turner recorded Mayen in a series of rough drawings in the fourth sketchbook of the 1839 tour (Tate D28434–D28436; Turner Bequest CCXC 42a–43a). It is from these jottings that the present gouache was created.
Powell 1991, p.150 no.83.
Inscribed in red ink, possibly by Ruskin, ‘[...]’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCXXI U’ bottom right and ‘21b’ centre towards left; inscribed in chalk ‘?20’ at centre.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Mayen in the Eifel c.1839 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-mayen-in-the-eifel-r1150965, accessed 29 November 2021.