Joseph Mallord William Turner, Published on 20 January 1807

WAG 4478

About this object

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.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    Joseph Mallord William Turner (British: English, born:probably 23 April 1775, died:19 December 1851)
    Charles Turner (British, born:31 July 1774, died:01 August 1857)
  • Date
    Published on 20 January 1807
  • Materials
    Mezzotint; Paper
  • Measurements
    image: 18.4 cm x 26.1 cm
  • Physical description
    A view of Basle city. Boats and rafts occupy the river Rhine which flows through the centre, crossed by a bridge. The city is on the right bank which disappears into the distance beneath rays of light from a setting sun.
  • Related people
    Charles Turner (Artist/maker, engraver); Joseph Mallord William Turner (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 4478
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1874
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: A
    Inscription method: Printed
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Above plate
Object view = Fine Art
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