Moselle Viaduct, Koblenz, Germany
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Although most of Turner's Mosel drawings depict historic towns and ruined castles, his subject matter in nos.50 and 51 is very different. No.50 shows the flourishing factories at Quint, handled with the bravado and brilliance such a theme deserved. No.51, based on a pencil sketch inscribed 'Napoleon passed here', employs a far softer palette and more delicate handling, perhaps chosen deliberately to show the unspoilt and peaceful countryside through which Napoleon and his armies had forced their way at the beginning of the century. In 1839 Turner did not, of course, see the temporary bridge of boats used by the French, but nevertheless imagined it very vividly.
Gallery label, August 2004
Medium: Gouache, pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Credit line: 'Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856'
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