River Front at Cologne, From Rhine Sketchbook

detailed sketch of city on river

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
River Front at Cologne, Looking Upstream with the Bayenturm, Gross St. Martin’s, Town Hall, Choir of Cathedral and St. Kunibert’s; Deutz on East Bank of the Rhine
From Rhine Sketchbook, 1817
Graphite on paper
7 15/16 x 10 7/16 in. (20.2 x 26.5 cm)
Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
©Tate, London 2016

In 1817, Turner made his first trip to Cologne as part of a larger tour up and down the Rhine. Here, he captures the ancient city’s impressive river front, known as the Rhine Crescent. His vantage point is similar to that in Cologne, made some nine years later. The tower of the church of Gross St. Martin, a focal point in the painting, is seen in the middle of the bend in the river. This trip marks Turner’s first trip to the Continent since 1802 to gather material for his oil paintings and watercolors, which he preserved in hundreds of sketches made in pocket-sized notebooks, as well as in larger ones suitable for broader vistas.

The complete Rhine Sketchbook is illustrated online by Tate

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