Master of light and colour

It was the era of Romantic landscape painting, when William Turner’s works changed the direction and are often described as the beginning of the Impressionist period. The British landscape painter captured his 10 trips to the Rhine in his sketchbooks, before transforming them into his inimitable Turner paintings in his London workshop. His selection of colours, how he plays with light and shadow, and his choice of perspectives are still fascinating today.

Painter Armin Thommes now has his workshop in St Goar-Biebernheim directly opposite the Lorelei, which featured in several of Turner’s paintings. The historian in Thommes had the idea of following more closely in the footsteps of the Romantic painters, especially those left by William Turner along the Rhine between Bingen and Koblenz. He sought out the spots in which Turner stood to sketch his subjects. The result is the 26 spots that make up the William Turner Route.

In each location, a bronze plate set into the ground describes the exact location for the painting. There, you can stand in the footsteps of the famous proponent of Rhine Romanticism. There is also a QR code providing more detailed information about the picture.

Lorelei Rock at St. Goarshausen, Romantic Rhine

Famous Lorelei Rock at St. Goarshausen: one of William Turner's subjects at the Romantic Rhine

The first bronze plate is the Hafen am Hunt in St Goar. From here, Turner sketched Maus Castle and Wellmich Church on his first trip to the Rhine in 1817. At the time, he was 42 years old and a professor of perspective at the Royal Academy in London. He travelled light, with three sketchbooks, three shirts, one nightshirt, an umbrella, a dozen pencils, a paintbox, six neckties, one handkerchief, stockings, a jacket and a razor. And he was well prepared, he followed the advice in the modern tourist guides and noted down some basic German vocabulary.

Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Stolzenfels Castle above the Rhine near Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Historic Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

After returning in August 1817, Turner used his sketches to produce 51 watercolours for his client Walter Fawkes before the end of the year. They are now in museums and private collections all over the world.

The plates along the William Turner Route between Koblenz and Bingen are gradually being completed, allowing a glance through the painter’s eyes at scenes like Ehrenbreitstein Castle, Stolzenfels Castle or the ‘warring brothers’, as the Castles of Sterrenberg and Liebenstein are known.

More leisure tips for culture lovers at the Romantic Rhine:

More information about holidays in the Romantic Rhine region

Find out everything you need to know on events, attractions and other destinations in the romantic Middle Rhine Valley at Romantischer Rhein Tourismus GmbH.

Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site

The whole region here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a charming combination of stunning nature and important cultural heritage.

Romantic Cities: Trip to Koblenz

The only city on both the Rhine and the Moselle: From Deutsches Eck, it is just a short walk to the narrow streets of the old town in Koblenz, past the Romanesque Basilica of St Castor.

Schwarzes Icon, das einen Kompass zeigt

Burg Liebenstein

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