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William Turner in the Middle Rhine Valley
On a Rhine journey by e-bike - about the master of romanticism and on his paths on the way
2 meeting points:
Meeting point 1 on SA, 29.06.24 in 56154 Boppard-Bad-Salzig, Am Bahnhof 1, car park
Meeting point 2 on SO, 21.07.24 in 55411 Bingen am Rhein, Museum am Strom, visitor car park, Museumstraße 3
Included in the tour fee: E-bike hire, coaching, delivery/pick-up, themed tour, regional snack with wine tasting
The minimum number of participants is 4.
Additional dates, group appointments or corporate events are available on request.
Please note that there is a handling fee for processing your booking and printing your ticket immediately as print@home.
- Adults with their own e-bike
About the E-Bike Tour
Hardly any other artist traveled as much and as far as the British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. His depictions of European places are so prominent in his oeuvre that he is often referred to in art history as one of the first “European” painters.
After 1815, when the English were able to travel again, they visited the continent in droves. Among the most popular destinations were the battlefield of Waterloo and the Rhineland, both so memorably treated by Lord Byron in the 3rd Canto of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”.
Inspired by travelogues, novels and poems, William Turner traveled to the picturesque Middle Rhine Valley for the first time in 1817. It was his first trip abroad, which he undertook alone and unaccompanied – on foot, by ferry and by boat. The influence of this trip on his artistic career should not be underestimated – it was a personal and professional triumph.
He sketched a large number of pencil drawings with views of the Middle Rhine Valley – the valley with the highest density of castles in the world: steep vineyards, cliffs, castles, ruins, churches, old towns. The basis for a series of watercolor and gouache scenes, which he immediately sold for the price of a large oil painting. The resulting series of watercolors alone would have secured his fame throughout the world, even if he had died in 1818 and had been unable to paint any others. In his works of the Rhine Castles, castles may represent a focal point, a resting pole, but it is the picture as a whole that captures the viewer’s eye and imagination. His painting was characterized much later as dissolving contours, depicting variability, showing the interaction of the forces of nature.
Although himself a professor of perspective at the Royal Academy in London for 30 years, he worked against the academic hierarchy, which accorded the highest rank to history painting. He worked in an unacademic and technical manner, showing the interaction of the forces of nature, wanting to give the landscape a sublime quality. He dramatized proportions and combined perspectives. His focus was on the overall atmosphere, the depiction of light and color.
Through his life’s work, he wrote landscape painting into British art history – it became a subject in its own right at the Royal Academy towards the end of the 19th century.
Cycle with us by e-bike to a selection of four spectacular painting locations in the Middle Rhine Valley, where the most important English painter and one of the most brilliant artists of the Romantic period gave free rein to his inspiration. Take a look at the original landscape, experience the artwork, perspective and point of view and let yourself be carried away into the biography of a wandering painter and the modernity of his landscape painting.
After a picnic with a sweeping view of the Rhine, we cycle back along the riverbank. An unforgettable art experience in the great outdoors.
Art was imported to England from the continent right into the 18th century. Landscape as a subject in painting was first categorized in the 18th century. At that time, painterly meant varied.
William Turner studied artists such as Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin, Richard Wilson, Robert Hills and John Gardner intensively. He was interested in natural phenomena and the industrial age. He supplemented his exploration of the environment with the study of scientific findings. He was particularly interested in optical phenomena. He regularly exchanged ideas with natural scientists such as Mary Somerville and Michael Faraday, who worked on physical topics such as magnetism and electromagnetism.
He prepared very carefully for his travels: with notes from travel books such as Campbell’s “Guide through Belgium and Holland”, transportation options, illustrated volumes by other artists such as the watercolourist Robert Hills and John Gardnor. He was asked to paint several watercolors of the Battle of Waterloo, but the most important result was the large oil painting that now hangs in the Tate Gallery. Here Turner depicted the tragic consequences of war, the pain resulting from “man’s inhumanity to man”. Later, his travels took him to Venice, Rome, Naples and Florence.
Turner’s use of color, light and atmosphere astounded and provoked his contemporaries. He increasingly pushed the boundaries of what could be depicted. Posterity celebrated his astonishing modernity. Turner was interested in motifs that went beyond the public taste of his time: He discovered the rugged landscape of Wales in 1792 and opened it up for art.
He worked in an unacademic and technical manner, showing the interaction of the forces of nature and seeking to give the landscape a sublime quality. In doing so, his painting dissolves the contours. He depicts the changeability of the world. Not so much in the works from the Middle Rhine Valley, but in his oeuvre as a whole. He focused on the overall atmosphere, the depiction of light and color. He dramatized with proportions and combined perspectives.
For thirty years, from 1807 to 1837, Turner was Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy in London. One of his chapters was devoted to observations on atmosphere and aerial perspective, followed by general reflections on the role of architecture and landscape in painting. In his lectures, he also addressed models from art history, problems of composition and the role and effect of color. He was always careful not to become too abstract or too theoretical.
In his exhibitions, Turner mainly showed landscape paintings – a genre that was not part of the Academy’s curriculum. In the artistic hierarchy, it was far below history painting, which was ranked highest.
Without regard for his audience, Turner created paintings that broke with the visual habits of the time. “The paintings of this ingenious border-crosser and great harbinger of modernism continue to unfold their power today.” ART Magazine, October 2023
Source: Tate Gallery, Lenbachhaus Munich, Born: April 23, 1775, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom, Died: December 19, 1851
up to 2 days before the tour
We cycle in all weathers. In case of persistent bad weather, the tour will be shortened as far as possible. In the event of foreseeable extreme weather conditions, the bike tour will be cancelled by email/phone to all participants up to 1.5 h before the start of the tour.