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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner St Martin's Church, Cochem c.1839

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
St Martin’s Church, Cochem c.1839
Turner Bequest CCXXI T
Gouache and watercolour on blue wove paper, 190 x 139 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCXXI T’ bottom left ascending
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This striking view of the eighteenth-century Church of St Martin at Cochem is based on a preliminary pencil sketch in the Cochem to Coblenz Home sketchbook of 1839 (Tate D28540; Turner Bequest CCXCI 2). St Martin’s lofty steeple dominates the composition at centre. It appears at the end of a narrow street lined on either side with buildings. The façades of these buildings are described swiftly in rough strokes of black and brown gouache. Despite Turner’s overall rather summary handling, the artist does establish a clear impression of linear perspective and recession through the use of emphatic diagonal lines on the façades. Though these lines of perspective do not converge at the centre, i.e. at a vanishing point, their inclusion in the composition does serve to accentuate the verticality of the church tower.
At the foot of St Martin’s steeple stands a soot-black gateway with a great yawning arch. Two diminutive figures can be seen on the road beneath dwarfed by the surrounding architecture. Beyond the church, in the background, is the Reichsburg rendered in softly smudged pastel tones of pink and yellow which juxtapose the sombre grey, black and brown of the foreground. The hazy, obscure form of the castle’s keep is in direct contrast with Turner’s rendering of St Martin’s ornate cupola and lantern which is delineated in fine strokes of black wash.
The vertical format of this work is rare among Turner’s 1839 gouaches, though there is one other like it: a view of the Enderttor and Alte Thorschenke at Cochem (Tate D24806; Turner Bequest CCLIX 241). The two were most likely conceived and produced as companion pieces.1 For other gouache drawings of Cochem see Tate D20238, D20253, D24723, D24725; Turner Bequest CCXXI E, T, CCLIX 158, 160.
Powell 1995, p.134 no.54.
Inscribed in pencil ‘21a’ at centre towards top right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2013

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘St Martin’s Church, Cochem 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-st-martins-church-cochem-r1150964, accessed 04 December 2021.