Cologne from the River

watercolor displaying bathers in a river in foreground and city in background

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
Cologne from the River, 1820
Watercolor on paper
12 1/8 x 18 1/4 in. (30.8 x 46.3 cm)
Seattle Art Museum; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin
Photo Paul Macapia

This watercolor shows Cologne’s celebrated waterfront from the south — the opposite direction from that of the Frick painting, made several years later. Visible here are many of the city’s landmarks: the medieval watchtower in the foreground and, beyond it, the massive Gothic cathedral, the church of Gross St. Martin, and the church of St. Kunibert with its twin towers. The balletic river swimmers, who have left their clothes in a clump on the raft, add a lighthearted note to the scene.

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