He is also a keen traveler. When touring all over Europe he deliberately walked in the fictional footsteps of Childe Harold, the disillusioned young man of Byron's poem who visited the sites wrought by wars to satisfy his need for freedom.
In 1835 Turner finishes his sublime view showing Rome from the Aventine, oil on canvas 93 x 126 cm. Extending to the oil the traditional technique of watercolor, the superposition of very thin layers of paint brings a transparency that simulates the sunny mist without weakening the details of the drawing. This painting was sold for £ 30.3M including premium by Sotheby's on December 3, 2014.
The artist has reached an agreement for an image of Germany with the engraver John Pye after he had appreciated the quality of the effects of light in his prints. When he receives the promised work, Pye is frightened but it is too late to give up : Turner did not execute a watercolor but an oil on canvas of large size, 93 x 123 cm, with the same subtle hues as in the Roman view. Meeting the requirements of the patron is virtually impossible.
This painting is a view of Ehrenbreitstein, subtitled The Bright Stone of Honour and the Tomb of Marceau from Byron's Childe Harold. The ruined fortress of Ehrenbreitstein which still dominates Koblenz is a symbol of the vanity of the old wars. Marceau is that young French general killed at the age of 27 near Koblenz who had deserved such a reputation for chivalrous bravery that the two hostile armies participated together in his funeral.
Contrary to the Roman view, the view of Rhineland does not seek an overall topographical truth. It is a set of scenes where peasant girls cohabit peacefully with soldiers of both armies.
The painting was finished in 1835. Nine years later Turner became impatient with Pye who succeeded in convincing him that his work was not abandoned. The engraving was printed in 1845 under the pressure of a collector who wanted to buy the original painting to Turner.
The Ehrenbreitstein view is estimated £ 15M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 5, lot 21. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for £ 18.5M including premium