Sublime Sites

Explorations in the footsteps of Turner, Cotman and Ruskin with Professor David Hill

In Turner’s Footsteps at Heidelberg: Part 1

On 27 February 2015 I announced that the Pilkington Anglo-Japanese Cultural Foundation had commissioned a SublimeSites exploration of Turner’s associations with Heidelberg. I promised to visit the site in May but then remembered that Cecilia Powell had discovered in Turner and Germany (1995, p.74) the actual dates on which Turner stayed in Heidelberg in 1844; 24-27 August. It seemed a better plan to visit on the same days in the hope of seeing things in the same light and conditions as had Turner.

Heidelberg Bridge and Castle Photograph by David Hill taken 25 August 2015, 17.51 GMT

Heidelberg Bridge and Castle
Photograph by David Hill taken 25 August 2015, 17.51 GMT

Turner came to know the topography of Heidelberg thoroughly. The city is about 90 km south of Frankfurt just where the river Neckar breaks out of the hills into the wide plains of the Rhine valley. The Neckar was an important transit route and the city controlled passage upstream, and its bridge facilitated an important north south road route. It was an important site in Roman times but by the medieval period had become a prosperous city with a large castle. This housed the Palace of the Elector Palatine, a key constituent of the Holy Roman Empire, and reached its apogee in the later Renaissance c.1550-1620 when extensive new apartments and gardens were built. The town and castle were subsequently fairly comprehensively destroyed by the French at the end of the seventeenth century but prosperity returned in the eighteenth century. It had been an important University town since the middle ages, and by Turner’s time was famous throughout Europe.

Turner’s first visit to the city was in 1833. He was fifty-eight, and discovering the city fairly late in his career. He already knew Mosel and the Rhine well, but somehow his routes up and down the Rhine had never before provided the opportunity to stop by. He was, however, at the peak of his powers, and was the probably most practiced and profound assimilator of place in all Europe. It was his routine practice to compass his subject, sketching from every angle so as to be able to build a three-dimensional model of a site in his mind. Even so, Heidelberg prompted extraordinary attention and he took a new sketchbook and stocked it with over fifty individual sketches. A few are extremely painstaking, but most are quite rapid, and he probably spent little more time at each vantage point than I did in photographing the subjects; a few minutes at each, and perhaps an hour at a few, soaking in the details at leisure. On the first evening I took in the views of the bridge, town and castle from across the river, on the second day I explored the castle inside and out, and from the hillsides above and behind, on the third day I made a systematic study of the bridge town and castle from across the river, and on the fourth day I revisited a few of the best sites to try and improve on what I already had, or take in a view under varying conditions. As it Turner out this seems to have more-or-less followed the plan of Turner’s campaign in 1833.

Turner returned to Heidelberg on several occasions. There is evidence of visits in 1840, 1841 and 1844, resulting in two more clutches of pencil sketches and well as several very fine colour studies, and from this material he developed three superb studio watercolours. The original occasion of this article was to explore the topography of an important late painting at the Tate called ‘Heidelberg in the Olden Time’. The topography of this proved to be rather more problematic that I originally suspected. The first part of this article reports my exploration in his 1833 footsteps, when he made a comprehensive circumperambulation of the city, The second part (hopefully, not so far behind) will deal with the finished works, and Turner’s sketches in pencil and watercolour from the 1840s, as well as the Tate painting.

In Turner’s Footsteps at Heidelberg

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Heidelberg Castle and the Cornmarket from outside the Prinz Carl Hotel Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 13.01 GMT Occasionally there is a record of exactly where Turner stayed on his travels. In 1995 Cecilia Powell (Turner and Germany, p.74) discovered documentation that Turner stayed in the Prinz Carl Hotel on the Cornmarket at Heidelberg. A newspaper reported him there 24-27 August 1844. Powell also identified a sketch from a tour dated to 1840 of the view from his room. The building that Turner stayed in was demolished in the 1970s but was replaced by a building of similar footprint and general elevation. Lining up the angles from the opposite side of the square it is possible to pinpoint the exact position of Turner’s room.

Heidelberg Castle and the Cornmarket from outside the Prinz Carl Hotel
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 13.01 GMT
Occasionally there is a record of exactly where Turner stayed on his travels. In 1995 Cecilia Powell (Turner and Germany, p.74) discovered documentation that Turner stayed in the Prinz Carl Hotel on the Cornmarket at Heidelberg. A newspaper reported him there 24-27 August 1844. Powell also identified a sketch from a tour dated to 1840 of the view from his room. The building that Turner stayed in was demolished in the 1970s but was replaced by a building of similar footprint and general elevation. Lining up the angles from the opposite side of the square it is possible to pinpoint the exact position of Turner’s room.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle and the Cornmarket from Turner’s Room in the Prinz Carl Hotel From the Rotterdam to Venice sketchbook, Tate, London, D32267, Turner Bequest CCCXX 3 as ‘Fountain, with Buildings on Hill - Faninbergh. St Gebert [Turner]’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-fountain-with-buildings-on-hill-faninbergh-st-gebert-turner-d32267

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle and the Cornmarket from Turner’s Room in the Prinz Carl Hotel
From the Rotterdam to Venice sketchbook, Tate, London, D32267, Turner Bequest CCCXX 3 as ‘Fountain, with Buildings on Hill – Faninbergh. St Gebert [Turner]’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-fountain-with-buildings-on-hill-faninbergh-st-gebert-turner-d32267

The Cornmarket, Heidelberg, looking towards Turner’s room in the Prinz Carl Hotel Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 13.02 GMT This position of Turner’s room is highlighted on the modern building.

The Cornmarket, Heidelberg, looking towards Turner’s room in the Prinz Carl Hotel
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 13.02 GMT
This position of Turner’s room is highlighted on the modern building.

J M W Turner Heidelberg: The Castle, Bridge and Heiliggeistkirche from across the Neckar, 1833 From the Salzburg and Danube sketchbook, Tate, London, D30132; Turner Bequest CCC 2 This appears to be Turner’s first sketch at Heidelberg. It is natural enough to spend one’s first evening strolling across the bridge to take in the view of the town and castle. Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-bridge-and-heiliggeistkirche-from-across-the-neckar-d30132

J M W Turner
Heidelberg: The Castle, Bridge and Heiliggeistkirche from across the Neckar, 1833
From the Salzburg and Danube sketchbook, Tate, London, D30132; Turner Bequest CCC 2
This appears to be Turner’s first sketch at Heidelberg. It is natural enough to spend one’s first evening strolling across the bridge to take in the view of the town and castle.
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-bridge-and-heiliggeistkirche-from-across-the-neckar-d30132

Heidelberg Castle and Heiliggeistkirche from the Old Bridge Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.46 GMT Turner’s sketch is not quite so straightforward as it at first appears. The main part of it is taken from the viewpoint of the photograph. But the castle has been ‘brought in’ close to the bridge towers, by sketching it from the bay at the base of the statue of Price Elector Carl Theodor.

Heidelberg Castle and Heiliggeistkirche from the Old Bridge
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.46 GMT
Turner’s sketch is not quite so straightforward as it at first appears. The main part of it is taken from the viewpoint of the photograph. But the castle has been ‘brought in’ close to the bridge towers, by sketching it from the bay at the base of the statue of Price Elector Carl Theodor.

Heidelberg Castle from the West Terrace Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.10 GMT Turner began his systematic exploration of the Heidelberg on the west terrace of the castle. Here he makes a two part panorama of the whole west range. Most visitors begin their exploration of the castle precincts on this spot.

Heidelberg Castle from the West Terrace
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.10 GMT
Turner began his systematic exploration of the Heidelberg on the west terrace of the castle. Here he makes a two part panorama of the whole west range. Most visitors begin their exploration of the castle precincts on this spot.

J M W Turner Heidelberg: The Castle from the West Terrace, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29816-29817; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 2-2a Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/sketchbook/heidelberg-up-to-salzburg-sketchbook-65926

J M W Turner
Heidelberg: The Castle from the West Terrace, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29816-29817; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 2-2a
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/sketchbook/heidelberg-up-to-salzburg-sketchbook-65926

Heidelberg from the West Terrace of the Castle Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.16 GMT The West Terrace of Heidelberg offers superb views over the town and visitors congregate here in great numbers. In 1833 Turner made a number of sketches and soaked himself in the scenery.

Heidelberg from the West Terrace of the Castle
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.16 GMT
The West Terrace of Heidelberg offers superb views over the town and visitors congregate here in great numbers. In 1833 Turner made a number of sketches and soaked himself in the scenery.

J M W Turner Heidelberg: Town, Heileggeistkirche and Old Bridge from the West Terrace of the Castle, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29820; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 4 as ‘Heidelberg: View from the Stückgarten of the Castle, with the Great Tower’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-from-the-stuckgarten-of-the-castle-with-the-great-tower-d29820

J M W Turner
Heidelberg: Town, Heileggeistkirche and Old Bridge from the West Terrace of the Castle, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29820; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 4 as ‘Heidelberg: View from the Stückgarten of the Castle, with the Great Tower’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-from-the-stuckgarten-of-the-castle-with-the-great-tower-d29820

Heidelberg from the West Terrace off the Castle Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.17 GMT By the 1830s Turner became increasingly dynamic with the relations of landmarks, even as he sketched. In his sketch of this subject he had brought in the Providenzkirche some way from the left, and sets the Heiliggeistkirche and Old Bridge in rather closer relation than in fact.

Heidelberg from the West Terrace off the Castle
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 10.17 GMT
By the 1830s Turner became increasingly dynamic with the relations of landmarks, even as he sketched. In his sketch of this subject he had brought in the Providenzkirche some way from the left, and sets the Heiliggeistkirche and Old Bridge in rather closer relation than in fact.

J M W Turner Heidelberg: Town, Heileggeistkirche and Old Bridge from the West Terrace of the Castle, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29818; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 3 as ‘Heidelberg: View from close to the Great Tower; A Ruined Window in the Great Tower’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-from-close-to-the-great-tower-a-ruined-window-in-the-great-tower-d29818

J M W Turner
Heidelberg: Town, Heileggeistkirche and Old Bridge from the West Terrace of the Castle, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29818; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 3 as ‘Heidelberg: View from close to the Great Tower; A Ruined Window in the Great Tower’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-from-close-to-the-great-tower-a-ruined-window-in-the-great-tower-d29818

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking east Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 11.20, GMT Turner made his way from the west terrace through the courtyard and onto the north terrace where he took views looking both east up the Neckar as here, and in the opposite direction.

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking east
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 11.20, GMT
Turner made his way from the west terrace through the courtyard and onto the north terrace where he took views looking both east up the Neckar as here, and in the opposite direction.

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking east, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29822; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 5 as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and the View up the Neckar from the Altan’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-the-view-up-the-neckar-from-the-altan-d29822

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking east, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29822; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 5 as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and the View up the Neckar from the Altan’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-the-view-up-the-neckar-from-the-altan-d29822

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking west Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 11.32 GMT Turner’s synthetic sketching method allowed him to cram into his page a much more extensive field of view than can easily be accomplished in that format with a camera.

The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking west
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 11.32 GMT
Turner’s synthetic sketching method allowed him to cram into his page a much more extensive field of view than can easily be accomplished in that format with a camera.

J M W Turner The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking west, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29823; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 5a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and the View down the Neckar from the Altan (in Two Instalments) Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-the-view-down-the-neckar-from-the-altan-in-two-d29823

J M W Turner
The North Terrace of Heidelberg Castle, looking west, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29823; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 5a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and the View down the Neckar from the Altan (in Two Instalments)
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-the-view-down-the-neckar-from-the-altan-in-two-d29823

Heidelberg Castle, the Gate Tower and Broken Tower from the South-East angle Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 9.21 GMT Returning to the castle entrance, Turner made his way east towards the garden, pausing at the south east angle. When the French attempted to blow up the castle at the end of the seventeenth century, it proved rather more resilient than they might have expected. The attempt to destroy the south east tower succeeded only in toppling part of it into the moat, where it remains, speaking more of resistance than of annihilation.

Heidelberg Castle, the Gate Tower and Broken Tower from the South-East angle
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 9.21 GMT
Returning to the castle entrance, Turner made his way east towards the garden, pausing at the south east angle. When the French attempted to blow up the castle at the end of the seventeenth century, it proved rather more resilient than they might have expected. The attempt to destroy the south east tower succeeded only in toppling part of it into the moat, where it remains, speaking more of resistance than of annihilation.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle, the Gate Tower and Broken Tower from the South-East angle, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29825; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 6a Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-castle-the-gate-tower-and-broken-tower-from-the-south-east-d29825

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle, the Gate Tower and Broken Tower from the South-East angle, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29825; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 6a
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-castle-the-gate-tower-and-broken-tower-from-the-south-east-d29825

Heidelberg Castle from the Garden Terrace Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 7.52 GMT One of the principal viewpoints at Heidelberg is from the magnificent elevated terrace that forms the east side of the gardens of Heidelberg Castle. Turner made numerous sketches there, including his first impression at the beginning of the terrace at its south end (7a) where he appears to have been a little distracted by two rather glamorous ladies that took his eye away from the scenery. As is typical of him, he looked to go further than the regular circuit, so he embarked upon a fairly strenuous (I can testify) clamber around the slopes above the castle to find still more elevated views. His next sketch in the series (8a), is somewhat beyond and above the north end of the terrace. His vantage point must have been quite precarious on the edge of a considerable cliff above the Neckar. He made several further sketches on the slopes, culminating in one (12) at about the height of a path called the ‘Elisabethanweg’. The effort of attempting views above the level of the terrace today is wasted; they being all blocked either by new building or unchecked tree growth.

Heidelberg Castle from the Garden Terrace
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 7.52 GMT
One of the principal viewpoints at Heidelberg is from the magnificent elevated terrace that forms the east side of the gardens of Heidelberg Castle. Turner made numerous sketches there, including his first impression at the beginning of the terrace at its south end (7a) where he appears to have been a little distracted by two rather glamorous ladies that took his eye away from the scenery. As is typical of him, he looked to go further than the regular circuit, so he embarked upon a fairly strenuous (I can testify) clamber around the slopes above the castle to find still more elevated views. His next sketch in the series (8a), is somewhat beyond and above the north end of the terrace. His vantage point must have been quite precarious on the edge of a considerable cliff above the Neckar. He made several further sketches on the slopes, culminating in one (12) at about the height of a path called the ‘Elisabethanweg’. The effort of attempting views above the level of the terrace today is wasted; they being all blocked either by new building or unchecked tree growth.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle from the south end of the Garden Terrace, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29827; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 7a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the Hillside Terrace (the Southern Part of the East Façade Continued in the Sky above)’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-hillside-terrace-the-southern-part-of-the-d29827

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle from the south end of the Garden Terrace, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29827; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 7a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the Hillside Terrace (the Southern Part of the East Façade Continued in the Sky above)’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-hillside-terrace-the-southern-part-of-the-d29827

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle from above and beyond the north end of the Garden Terrace, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29829; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 8a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the East’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-east-d29829

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle from above and beyond the north end of the Garden Terrace, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29829; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 8a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the East’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-east-d29829

J M W Turner Heidelberg: The Castle and Neckar Valley from the East, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29836; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 12 Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-neckar-valley-from-the-east-d29836

J M W Turner
Heidelberg: The Castle and Neckar Valley from the East, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29836; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 12
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-neckar-valley-from-the-east-d29836

The Elisabethanweg, Heidelberg Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 08.56 GMT Turner found some excellent viewpoints on the hillsides above the garden terrace east of Heidelberg Castle, and so did a number of other artists, and Queen Elizabeth of Austria who like to walk on these slopes and had a path named in her honour. Presumably she enjoyed the views. Today, apart from the terrace itself, there are none, all choked by unchecked tree growth. The authorities of Heidelberg might constructively engage in a little pruning to reclaim the more elevated, and potentially stunning, promenades.

The Elisabethanweg, Heidelberg
Photograph by David Hill taken 26 August 2015, 08.56 GMT
Turner found some excellent viewpoints on the hillsides above the garden terrace east of Heidelberg Castle, and so did a number of other artists, and Queen Elizabeth of Austria who like to walk on these slopes and had a path named in her honour. Presumably she enjoyed the views. Today, apart from the terrace itself, there are none, all choked by unchecked tree growth. The authorities of Heidelberg might constructively engage in a little pruning to reclaim the more elevated, and potentially stunning, promenades.

Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and Heiliggeistkirche Photograph by David Hill taken 25 August 2015, 17.51 GMT Turner probably spent his first full day, as I did, exploring the castle precincts, and the second day exploring the views of the town and castle from the shores of the Neckar across the bridge. He began with a careful study of the bridge, castle and church, across two pages of his sketchbook before systematically exploring the shore at intervals both down and upstream.

Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and Heiliggeistkirche
Photograph by David Hill taken 25 August 2015, 17.51 GMT
Turner probably spent his first full day, as I did, exploring the castle precincts, and the second day exploring the views of the town and castle from the shores of the Neckar across the bridge. He began with a careful study of the bridge, castle and church, across two pages of his sketchbook before systematically exploring the shore at intervals both down and upstream.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and Heiliggeistkirche, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29840-41; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 14-14a as ‘Heidelberg: The Bridge and Castle from the West’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-bridge-and-castle-from-the-west-d29840

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and Heiliggeistkirche, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29840-41; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 14-14a as ‘Heidelberg: The Bridge and Castle from the West’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-bridge-and-castle-from-the-west-d29840

Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and town from downstream, opposite the armoury Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 17.54 GM

Heidelberg Bridge, Castle and town from downstream, opposite the armoury
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 17.54 GM

J M W Turner Heidelberg Bridge, Castle from downstream, opposite the armoury, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29843; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 15a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the Neuenheim Shore’ The church spire at the extreme right is that of the Providenzkirche, brought in a little way from the right. Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-neuenheim-shore-d29843

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Bridge, Castle from downstream, opposite the armoury, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29843; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 15a as ‘Heidelberg: The Castle and Town from the Neuenheim Shore’
The church spire at the extreme right is that of the Providenzkirche, brought in a little way from the right.
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-castle-and-town-from-the-neuenheim-shore-d29843

he spire of the Providenzkirche, Heidelberg Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 17.51 GMT From the right bank of the Neckar a little way below the armoury.

he spire of the Providenzkirche, Heidelberg
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 17.51 GMT
From the right bank of the Neckar a little way below the armoury.

Heidelberg Castle and Palais Weimar from upstream of the old bridge Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 08.27 GMT This vantage point, a short walk upstream across the old bridge, is at its best in the morning, when the sun is slanting in from the left. Turner made a long series of sketches at intervals upstream as the spire of the Heiliggeistkirche diminished into the distance.

Heidelberg Castle and Palais Weimar from upstream of the old bridge
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 08.27 GMT
This vantage point, a short walk upstream across the old bridge, is at its best in the morning, when the sun is slanting in from the left. Turner made a long series of sketches at intervals upstream as the spire of the Heiliggeistkirche diminished into the distance.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle and Palais Weimar from upstream of the old bridge, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29845; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 16a as ‘Heidelberg: The Karlstor, Palais Weimar and Castle from the Hirschgasse’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-karlstor-palais-weimar-and-castle-from-the-hirschgasse-d29845

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle and Palais Weimar from upstream of the old bridge, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29845; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 16a as ‘Heidelberg: The Karlstor, Palais Weimar and Castle from the Hirschgasse’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-karlstor-palais-weimar-and-castle-from-the-hirschgasse-d29845

Heidleberg Castle, Town and Bridge from the banks of the Neckar, upstream of the old bridge Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 08.30 GMT

Heidleberg Castle, Town and Bridge from the banks of the Neckar, upstream of the old bridge
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 08.30 GMT

J M W Turner Heidelberg Castle and Bridge from upstream, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29854; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 21 as ‘Heidelberg: View down the Neckar from East of the Town’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-down-the-neckar-from-east-of-the-town-d29854

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Castle and Bridge from upstream, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29854; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 21 as ‘Heidelberg: View down the Neckar from East of the Town’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-down-the-neckar-from-east-of-the-town-d29854

Heidelberg from the right bank of the Neckar Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 09.23 GMT The right bank of the Neckar has been developed into a splendid tree-shaded promenade. Even Turner might have been surprised at the energy expenditure of contemporary German promenaders!

Heidelberg from the right bank of the Neckar
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 09.23 GMT
The right bank of the Neckar has been developed into a splendid tree-shaded promenade. Even Turner might have been surprised at the energy expenditure of contemporary German promenaders!

Heidelberg Old Bridge, from the right bank of the Neckar Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.28 GMT Turner returned to the old bridge and made a second sketch (see CCC 2, above) looking across the bridge, this time from a viewpoint nearer the far bank, beneath the statue of Minerva. As with the first sketch, however, things are not so straightforward as they at first seem. He employs the same device of moving viewpoints halfway through the sketch (the first from the end of the bridge, the second from under the statue so as to bring the castle more tightly into the composition.

Heidelberg Old Bridge, from the right bank of the Neckar
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.28 GMT
Turner returned to the old bridge and made a second sketch (see CCC 2, above) looking across the bridge, this time from a viewpoint nearer the far bank, beneath the statue of Minerva. As with the first sketch, however, things are not so straightforward as they at first seem. He employs the same device of moving viewpoints halfway through the sketch (the first from the end of the bridge, the second from under the statue so as to bring the castle more tightly into the composition.

J M W Turner Heidelberg Old Bridge, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29862; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 25 as ‘Heidelberg: View across the Bridge to the Castle and Town’ Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-across-the-bridge-to-the-castle-and-town-d29862

J M W Turner
Heidelberg Old Bridge, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29862; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 25 as ‘Heidelberg: View across the Bridge to the Castle and Town’
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-view-across-the-bridge-to-the-castle-and-town-d29862

Heidelberg Castle from the Old Bridge Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.29 GMT From the foot of the statue of Minerva

Heidelberg Castle from the Old Bridge
Photograph by David Hill taken 27 August 2015, 11.29 GMT
From the foot of the statue of Minerva

J M W Turner Heidelberg, the Karlstor, Castle and Bridge from the left bank of the Neckar, 1833 From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29863; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 25a as ‘Heidelberg: The Karlstor and View down the Neckar’ Turner finished his survey of Heidelberg with a group of sketches attempting to find a view on the left bank in the vicinity of the Karlstor where he might include the gate, town castle and bridge. He succeeded to a degree, but with the arrival of the railway station and the busy road, few visitors attempt to make anything of the locality today. Photo courtesy of Tate To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-karlstor-and-view-down-the-neckar-d29863

J M W Turner
Heidelberg, the Karlstor, Castle and Bridge from the left bank of the Neckar, 1833
From the Heidelberg up to Salzburg sketchbook, Tate, London, D29863; Turner Bequest CCXCVIII 25a as ‘Heidelberg: The Karlstor and View down the Neckar’
Turner finished his survey of Heidelberg with a group of sketches attempting to find a view on the left bank in the vicinity of the Karlstor where he might include the gate, town castle and bridge. He succeeded to a degree, but with the arrival of the railway station and the busy road, few visitors attempt to make anything of the locality today.
Photo courtesy of Tate
To view this image in Tate’s own catalogue of the Turner bequest, click on the following link, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-heidelberg-the-karlstor-and-view-down-the-neckar-d29863

Heidelberg; the Karlstor Photograph by David Hill, 27 August 2015, 09.51 GMT The Karlstor was begun in 1775 as a tribute to the Elector Karl Theodore. The fact that it was thus the same age as the artist might account for Turner’s commitment to trying to make something of it. Today it is overwhelmed by the paraphernalia of modern motoring.

Heidelberg; the Karlstor
Photograph by David Hill, 27 August 2015, 09.51 GMT
The Karlstor was begun in 1775 as a tribute to the Elector Karl Theodore. The fact that it was thus the same age as the artist might account for Turner’s commitment to trying to make something of it. Today it is overwhelmed by the paraphernalia of modern motoring.

Turner made fifty-two sketches in 1833. Most are just rapid jottings but he punctuated his sequences with drawings that carefully captured specific detail, so as to have the material to develop almost any view that he decided upon. All contain enough detail for them for the visitor today to be able to recognise the subjects and Heidelberg (apart from the trees behind the castle!) is sufficiently unchanged for it to be possible to plot the exact viewpoint of every one. It might be worthwhile to create a comprehensive Turner trail around Heidelberg should the opportunity arise.

Google Earth Aerial View of Heidelberg, marked with Turner's 1833 viewpoints.  Click on the image to open full-size, and use your browser's 'back' button to return to this page.

Google Earth Aerial View of Heidelberg, marked with Turner’s 1833 viewpoints.
Click on the image to open full-size, and use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return to this page.

For now, however, it is time to move on to consider the later work. Suffice it to say that in 1833 Turner comprehensively quartered the city; stocked up views of the main landmarks from every angle, and certainly – considering the main sequences of sketches – laid up material for potential views of the castle from the east. The view from the garden terrace was already popular and well-known, and he looked for something slightly different by exploring the higher slopes. He also marched the whole length of the Neckar shore on the right bank, looking to the old bridge, castle and town from both upstream and down, near and far, and finished off by attempting to find a view that few artists had attempted from the left bank near the Karlstor. One observation that ought to be made at this stage is that the 1833 drawings contain little evidence of atmosphere or effect. He would have learned, however, that the best effects are in the morning and evening. From the Neckar shore the town and castle are contre-jour during most of the day, but in the morning the light slants in attractively from upstream and in the evening the castle gleams brilliantly pink and red. Up at the castle the view from the east is likewise at its best in the morning or at sunset. During the day there might be some possibility of good effects from the slopes above the castle to the south. We might presume that Turner had taken all this in, even if it is not specifically recorded.

TO BE CONTINUED:
Part 2 will consider Turner’s three finished watercolours of Heidelberg, two groups of pencil sketches from the 1840s, and two groups of superb colour studies, as well as the painting at the Tate known as ‘Heidelberg in the Olden Time.’ I thought I had better post what I’ve done thus far, however, and hope it’s not too long before I complete the remainder!

In a turret on the north terrace at Heidelberg Castle.

In a turret on the north terrace at Heidelberg Castle.

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This entry was posted on October 19, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , , .
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