Sublime Sites

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

Update: Turner and Heidelberg – a newly identified source for the Tate painting

Since completing part #6 of the SublimeSites.co series on Turner and Heidelberg, I have discovered a potential literary source for the subject of the Tate oil painting.

J M W Turner A Castle in an Alpine Valley, called ‘Heidelberg’, c.1842 Oil on canvas, 52 × 79 ½ ins (132 × 201 cms) Tate, London, N00518 Photograph by David Hill, courtesy of Tate In what follows, I question the long-established identification of the painting as ‘Heidelberg’, (sometimes ‘Heidelberg in the Olden Time’) and propose an earlier date than the current consensus of 1844-5. 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-n00518

J M W Turner
A Castle in an Alpine Valley, called ‘Heidelberg’, c.1842
Oil on canvas, 52 × 79 ½ ins (132 × 201 cms)
Tate, London, N00518
Photograph by David Hill, courtesy of Tate
In what follows, I question the long-established identification of the painting as ‘Heidelberg’, (sometimes ‘Heidelberg in the Olden Time’) and propose an earlier date than the current consensus of 1844-5.
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-n00518

 J M W Turner Ruined Castle, with Mountains, 1841?c Pencil with slight touches of watercolour on paper, 227 x 325 mm A page from the ‘Mountain Fortress’ sketchbook’, Tate D33664.Turner Bequest CCCXXXIX 11 Tate Britain, London Self-evidently related to the painting called ‘Heidelberg’. But of somewhere else altogether. 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-ruined-castle-with-mountains-d33664

J M W Turner
Ruined Castle, with Mountains, 1841?c
Pencil with slight touches of watercolour on paper, 227 x 325 mm
A page from the ‘Mountain Fortress’ sketchbook’, Tate D33664.Turner Bequest CCCXXXIX 11
Tate Britain, London
Self-evidently related to the painting called ‘Heidelberg’. But of somewhere else altogether.
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-ruined-castle-with-mountains-d33664

In part #6, I suggested that the composition of the painting was based on a sketch in the ‘Mountain Fortress’ sketchbook in the Turner Bequest at the Tate (TB CCCXXXIX). I am still puzzling over what the subject of the sketches might be – there are several of the same castle(s) in that sketchbook – but I did notice that the sketchbook contains the draft of a passage of poetry that clearly contains the germ of the composition.

J M W Turner A draft composition of a passage of poetry, 1841? (detail #2) Pencil on paper, page size 227 x 325 mm A page from the ‘Mountain Fortress’ sketchbook’, Tate D40432.Turner Bequest CCCXXXIX 11 Tate Britain, London 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-title-not-known-d40432

J M W Turner
A draft composition of a passage of poetry, 1841? (detail #2)
Pencil on paper, page size 227 x 325 mm
A page from the ‘Mountain Fortress’ sketchbook’, Tate D40432.Turner Bequest CCCXXXIX 11
Tate Britain, London
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-title-not-known-d40432

I have transcribed the passage and incorporated that into an updated version of Part #6.

[title not known] null by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Supported by the Pilkington Anglo-Japanese Cultural Foundation

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