This print, 'Basle', is plate 5 of Turner's 'Liber Studiorum' series. It is an example of the 'Architectural' category of landscape painting. It was published with the 1st part of the series on 20 January 1807.
This view of Basle, Germany was based on drawings Turner made of the city on his first trip abroad. The outbreak of war with France in 1799 had made foreign travel nearly impossible until its end in 1815. Turner made this trip during the temporary Peace of Amiens in 1802.
The delicate lighting and grand composition challenged the idea that architectural views were little more important than decorative maps.
The 'Liber Studiorum' illustrated Turner’s arguments for the supremacy of landscape painting. The title means ‘book of studies’ in Latin. It contained no written text, instead it was made up of individual mezzotint prints on paper. They were released in fourteen parts from around 1807 until 1819. Turner intended the 'Liber' to consist of 100 prints but only 71 were ultimately produced.
The prints reflected the five categories of landscape painting Turner believed existed: architectural, historical, marine, mountainous and pastoral. Turner wrote an initial on each work to indicate which category it belonged to.