This previously unpublished watercolour is a new addition to Turner's oeuvre. The present watercolour is typical of one of Turner's 'colour beginnings' (for this term, derived from Turner's own inscription, 'Beginning for Dear Fawkes', on the preliminary colour sketch for The Loss of an East Indiaman, London, Tate Britain, Turner Bequest CXCVI N; see E. Shanes, Turner's Watercolour Explorations, exhibition catalogue, London, Tate Gallery, and Southampton City Art Galleries, February-September 1997, pp. 33-4, no. 1, illustrated in colour, and ibid., passim).
The view has recently been indentified by Ian Warrell as depicting Regensburg (also known as Ratisbon). There is a pencil sketch in the Turner Bequest, Venice; Passau to Würzburg Sketchbook, 1840 [Finberg CCCX], TB CCCX 40a, illustrated fig. 1, which shows the same view from a similar angle, the buildings in the distance hinted at in Turner's pictorial shorthand.
Regensburg was originally a Roman garrison town, guarding the Danube at its northern-most point in Bavaria. An important commercial and trading centre, it served as the seat of the Reichstag, the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire. There is a large Gothic cathedral and churches of all periods, together with a number of thirteenth and fourteenth-century towers built by prosperous merchants.
The identification of the subject matter coupled with the style of the watercolour and in particular the full-faced woman on the right, suggests that it was executed on Turner's homeward journey from Venice through Austria and Germany in September and early October 1840. The present watercolour is executed on a quarter sheet of Royal Drawings paper, from John Muggeridge at Carshalton paper mill, Surrey, which used the Ansell name in the mill's watermarks even after the Muggeridge/Ansell partnership had dissolved. Turner bought a considerable amount of this paper in the 1820s and particularly utilised it in two series of drawings dating from Turner's last visit to Venice in 1840 and his 1841 tour of Germany. At least seven 1/4 sheets of 'C ANSELL/1828' Royal watercolour paper were used on the 1840 tour to Venice. Turner returned home via Trieste, Graz, Vienna, Passau, Regensburg, Mainz and Coblenz.
The watercolour of The Walhalla, near Regensburg on the Danube, which he must have visited from Regensburg, is executed on a Royal Quarto sheet from the same batch as the present watercolour (see fig. 2), for Turner's drawings in Regensburg and at the Walhalla, and for this return journey in general, see C. Powell, Turner in Germany, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim and Hamburger Kunsthalle, May 1995-March 1996, pp. 65-74, 143-76, and in particular pp. 165-8, nos. 94-97, all illustrated. Cecilia Powell has noted that the watercolour previously identified as A Conflagration, Lausanne is also a view of Regensburg (Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery; A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, London and Fribourg, 1979, p. 474, no. 1455, illustrated) and is also executed on a sheet of paper the same size as the present watercolour. Subject to further research it is possible that the present watercolour, The Walhalla and the watercolour previously identified as A Conflagration, Lausanne are three-quarters of the same Ansell sheet, which Turner used when he stayed at Regensburg on his way home to England.
We are grateful to Ian Warrell for identifying the present watercolour and to Andrew Wilton, Cecilia Powell, Martin Butlin and Peter Bower for their help in preparing this catalogue entry.