In Turner’s Footsteps around Lucerne: A survey of sketches, part #3

Here we continue in Turner’s Footsteps around Lucerne, examining drawings in the first of three sketchbooks in addition to the Between Lucerne and Thun that is our main subject.

TB CCCXXVIII Lucerne and Berne sketchbook, (continued)


02v as ‘Lucerne, with Pilatus c.1841’ Image source, Tate

The existing title of Pilatus is wrong. Mont Pilatus is not visible here, but out of the frame to the right. The general view instead is that of the mouth of the Reuss as seen from the Reussbrucke, with the Wasserturm and Kapellbrucke in the centre, the Rigi in the distance, the Clock Tower to the left, and the Jesuit church to the right, continued to the left in a separate detail upper left, recording buildings on the right bank of the Reuss.

Lucerne from the Reussbrucke. Photograph taken by Professor David Hill, 26 May 2014, 18.29 CET

Turner synthesises the sketch from several discrete viewpoints. The intersection of the Wasserturm and Mont Rigi places us towards the right (south) end of the bridge. The angle on the Jesuit church to the right, however, places us at a viewpoint further left towards the north end of the bridge. The angle on the Clock Tower and Rathaus to the right, by contrast, places us at the extreme south end of the bridge, or on the walkway connecting the bridge to the quay of the Jesuit chuch. Even here it is not possible to see the tower that stands at the left end of the Kapellbrucke as Turner shows it here.

Opening up the view of the Tour Baghard from the Jesuitenkirche. Photograph by Professor David Hill, 25 May 2014, 20.13 CET

This is the still-standing Tour Baghard, part of the Haus Zur Gilgen, but in fact from the Reussbrucke it is hidden behind the buildings of the Rathausquai to the left, and does not present itself to view until one reaches the Jesuit church. It seems very much as if Turner made this sketch whilst continually on the move, which perhaps explains the hastiness of the hand.  A final complication is that the intersection of the Wasserturm and Rigi, whilst on the line of the right end of the bridge, implies a rather higher viewpoint than any of the other details. The Stadtplan of 1840 indicates that there were buildings here in the early 1840s, but I have not managed to discover what they were, still less whether Turner might have been able to gain access to a sufficient height. In any case, it remains possible that the artist simply reordered his material on the hoof in order to increase the dramatic effect.

J.M.W.Turner, Lucerne: Moonlight. Image courtesy of the British Museum

Turner made several other sketches of this same view: one a quick, but large and naturalistic pencil sketch on grey paper, TB CCCXLI 384; others amongst a group of small sketches in the Lake of Zug and Goldau sketchbook 5v, 28r and 28v, and another, quick but controlled, in the Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook TB CCXXIX 7r. The last we have discussed in a previous article, and the remainder will be considered in due course. The last is specifically related to a finished watercolour of Lucerne: Moonlight at the British Museum. This in turn is related to a colour study in the Turner Bequest TB CCCLXIV 324, although the latter is more-or-less invented from memory. I have written about that in a previous SublimeSites.co article.

04 as ‘Lucerne’, c.1841’ . Image source, Tate

Lucerne from the west, with the Museggmauer to the left and the Gutschwald with Pilatus to the right. Similar material to that sketched from a greater distance in f.5, below.

04a as ‘Lucerne’, c.1841’ . Image source, Tate

Hofkirche from the north, with Pilatus in the centre distance, and the town with the Museggmauer to the right. This appears to be the only occasion that Turner sketched this aspect of Lucerne.

05 as ‘Lucerne’, c.1841’ . Image source, Tate

A view from the west, from a more distant viewpoint than f.04, above.

Inside back cover as ‘[title not known]’ . Image source, Tate

(Main sketch centre) Lucerne from the Lake near Tribschen. A similar view to that sketched in the Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook f.9a and on grey paper (TB CCCXLI 382; Tate D34105). We have discussed the first in a previous instalment, and will consider the latter in due course. With a more distant view of the same, sketched very hastily, above, and a more controlled panorama below of Mont Pilatus and flanking mountains from off the Villa ‘Stutz’. Turner sketched the Villa Stutz and Pilatus in the Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook, page 10a, and made a colour study of the Pilatus view in Tate D33496; Turner Bequest CCCXXXII 26. Those are discussed in a separate instalment.

Summary of Lucerne subjects in Lucerne and Berne sketchbook

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To be continued

Next: Lake of Zug and Goldau sketchbook

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