Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rainbow: A View on the Rhine from Dunkholder Vinyard, of Ostersprey and Feltzen below Bosnart
Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, Rainbow: A View on the Rhine from Dunkholder Vinyard, of Ostersprey and Feltzen below Bosnart, ca. 1819, Watercolor applied with brush with scraped highlights; 18.7 x 29.2 cm (7 3/8 x 11 1/2 inches), Anonymous gift 71.153.2
Turner was trained as a topographical watercolor artist, and throughout his life watercolors remained integral to the development of his work. This is one of three designs for a book commission of engraved Rhine River views, but because another similar project was published before Turner’s the series was never completed. Here, Turner brilliantly portrayed a rainbow brightening a saturated sky at a wide bend in the Rhine. Windblown figures in the foreground accentuate the stormy atmosphere. Turner created highlights in the foreground by scraping away the watercolor, and he formed the rainbow by wiping pigment from the sky, probably with a cloth, to reveal the white of the paper. The long title (with Boppard misspelled as Bosnart) accompanied the work at its only showing during Turner’s life, in 1823.