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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Tour of Northern Germany, the Elbe and Prague 1835

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As part of her research for the 1995 Tate exhibition Turner in Germany, Cecilia Powell revisited six relatively unstudied sketchbooks in the Bequest. For the first time she made connections between the six, consequently disentangling and crystallising the trajectory of a journey Turner made to the continent dated, by Finberg and other scholars, 1837–40. Powell was able to narrow down this range to a specific date: the end of August to mid October 1835, and to a specific tour: one of northern Germany, the Elbe, and Rhine. She subsequently revised the titles Finberg had provided for five of the sketchbooks, and also added a sixth to the tour group: the Rotterdam sketchbook (Turner Bequest CCCXXI), which Turner scholars had assigned to continental tours happening in 1840 or 1841. The tour is comprehensively described in Powell’s catalogue essay, ‘Northern Germany, the Elbe and Prague, 1835’. She details and contextualises Turner’s journey, which encompassed not only Bavaria ...
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Hamburg and Copenhagen sketchbook
D30823–D30877; D30879–D30887; D41035–D41037
Turner Bequest CCCV 1–34
Copenhagen to Dresden sketchbook
D31020–D31137; D41023–D41024
Turner Bequest CCCVII 1–59a
Dresden and Saxon Switzerland sketchbook
D30888–D30893; D30895–D31019; D41123–D41124
Turner Bequest CCCVI 1–68a
Dresden, Teplitz and Prague sketchbook
D30296–D30373; D41211–D41212
Turner Bequest CCCI 1–40a
Prague, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Rhine sketchbook
D30633–D30634; D30636–D30637; D30639–D30668; D30670–D30671; 30673–D30680; D30682–D30684; D30686; D30688–D30723; D30725–D30822; D41225
Turner Bequest CCCIV 1–103
As part of her research for the 1995 Tate exhibition Turner in Germany, Cecilia Powell revisited six relatively unstudied sketchbooks in the Bequest. For the first time she made connections between the six, consequently disentangling and crystallising the trajectory of a journey Turner made to the continent dated, by Finberg and other scholars, 1837–40.1 Powell was able to narrow down this range to a specific date: the end of August to mid October 1835, and to a specific tour: one of northern Germany, the Elbe, and Rhine. She subsequently revised the titles Finberg had provided for five of the sketchbooks, and also added a sixth to the tour group: the Rotterdam sketchbook (Turner Bequest CCCXXI), which Turner scholars had assigned to continental tours happening in 1840 or 1841.2
The tour is comprehensively described in Powell’s catalogue essay, ‘Northern Germany, the Elbe and Prague, 1835’.3 She details and contextualises Turner’s journey, which encompassed not only Bavaria and Saxony in Germany, but also parts of Denmark, Pomerania and the Netherlands. The tour began in Hamburg, which Turner reached on 1 September via steam packet. It continued across the Baltic to Copenhagen, across the Baltic once more to Prussia via Szczecin, and south by carriage to Berlin and Dresden. Turner then moved on to Saxon Switzerland, and across the Bohemian border to Teplitz and Prague. The tour proceeded went west to Nuremberg and W├╝rzburg, where the artist joined the River Main in the direction of Mainz. There he met the Rhine, travelling down it past Koblenz and Cologne to reach Rotterdam, his final destination and the terminal for steamers back to London. The journey took in major European cities, cultural and artistic hubs, hillside spa towns, Napoleonic battlefields, riverside villages, castles, fortresses, forests, mountains, rivers, canals and coastline.
The variety of experiences and vistas notwithstanding, a trip like this also appealed for professional reasons. There were world-renowned art collections at Dresden and Berlin, Copenhagen was an important artistic centre, and contemporary artists like George Clarkson Stanfield were featuring northern Germany in their topographical engraving series. Samuel Heinrich Spiker, Powell notes, had also relatively recently published his Berlin und seine Umgebungen (1833) which contained over one hundred views of Berlin and its surroundings, engraved, in part, by Turner’s associates William and Edward Finden.4
While no exhibition or commissioned oil paintings are known to have resulted from this tour, Turner did produce at least two designs for engraving from drawings in the Rotterdam and Dresden, Teplitz and Prague sketchbooks. One depicting Rotterdam’s fish market was destined for William Floyd’s engraving project, the Gallery of Modern British Artists (published 1836; see Tate impression T05150). The other, entitled Prague – Kosciusko, was published by Edward Goodall for an 1837 edition of Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works (Tate Impression T04767).5 A vignette of Ehrenbreitstein, Koblenz, was also produced for Goodall’s project (Tate impression T04784), and was possibly developed from drawings in the Prague, Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Rhine sketchbook or from earlier Rhine tour material (1824, 1833).
1
In his 1909 Inventory AJ Finberg groups Turner Bequest CCCI, CCCVI, CCCV, CCCVI and CCCVII in the 1837 to 1840 date range. Turner Bequest CCCXXI is dated between 1837 and 1841 (see Finberg 1909, pp.974–76, 981–93, 1033–35).
2
See, for example, Fred G.H. Bachrach, Turner’s Holland, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1994, p.22 or Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, revised ed., London 2006, p.242.
3
Powell 1995, pp.46–60.
4
Powell 1995, pp.11 (fig 4), 46.
5
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.452 no.1273.

Alice Rylance-Watson
September 2015

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Tour of Northern Germany, the Elbe and Prague 1835’, September 2015, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/tour-of-northern-germany-the-elbe-and-prague-r1187351, accessed 21 August 2018.