FROM GOYA TO PICASSO: WORKS FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF JAN KRUGIER
The watercolour has been dated to circa 1824 and relates to the studies of rocky mountain scenery that Turner made on his first sketching-tour of the Meuse and Mosel in Germany. During this trip he explored the Meuse valley ‘between Liege in Belgium and Verdun in France, and that of the Rhine’s most important tributary, the Mosel, on its final and most celebrated section between Trier and Coblenz’ (C. Powell, Turner in Germany, London 1995, p. 30). He used four sketchbooks to record this tour and many of the drawings can be closely compared to the pencil sketch on the reverse of the present work.
This drawing depicts a fort and other buildings perched on a rocky cliff. The letter ‘m’ is inscribed above the castle on the left suggesting the first initial of the place name. Although the exact location is not known it is most likely a scene on the Meuse and not the Mosel. Turner’s drawings of picturesque towns and villages in his Rivers Meuse to Mosel Sketchbook (Tate Britain, TB. CCXVI) are executed in a similarly rapid and loose style and many of the sheets include continuations and extra details, sometimes circled like the fort on the far left of the present work.
During the 1820s Turner became increasingly interested in optics and colour theory. His new found understanding of colour was most probably inspired by his trip to Italy in 1819-20. There, the light had the effect of liberating his palette enabling him to achieve a finer luminosity in watercolour. He increasingly favoured the practice of drawing loose preparatory sketches and pure studies in colour. These studies were rapidly executed and much was left to chance. Thin translucent layers of colour would be applied to wet paper and once this had dried further washes would often be added. This technique enabled Turner to preserve the purity and luminosity of his work, and to paint at a prodigiously rapid rate.
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