In Turner’s Footsteps between Lucerne and Thun: #12a-13 From Stanstaad across the Alpnachersee

Here we continue our journey through Turner’s Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook. On this page we set out by boat from Stansstad across the Alpnachersee. The modern steamer takes about twenty minutes. Turner appears to have hired a rowing boat with a couple of oarsmen. Giving himself sufficient time to set down the views en route.

Turner’s Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook, Tate, open at pages 12a-13

The upper sketch records the view of Stansstad from Lake Lucerne, with the Schnitzturm on the lake shore beneath the great bulk over the Stanserhorn.

[On a desktop, right click image for option to open full-size in new tab. Close tab to return to this page.]

This was Turner’s third record of the prospect following those on that on f.11v and f.12r. As with the previous sketch he was particularly drawn to the sight of a snow-capped peak of the Ruchstock (2814m), just to the left of the Stanserhorn, which he duly marked ‘Sn’. The three sketches between them testify to some determination to retain a vivid impression of this prospect. It is perhaps surprising that there is no watercolour treatment of the view. There are many Alpine subjects in the Turner Bequest that remain to be identified, however, and perhaps one remains to be discovered.

In passing we may note a second sketch on this page, but this records a view near Interlaken towards the end of this journey. We will return to it at the appropriate time.

The opposite page (13r) contains two sketches.

Views on Lake circa 1841 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D33156

The first, drawn across the page, was drawn soon after Turner’s pulled out onto the open water of the Alpnachersee. Off the port (left) rail the entrance to the Rotzlochschlucht opens onto the lake shore. From the shadow indications in the sketch, the sun is in the south-west, so it would appear that Turner directly continued his journey from Stansstad.

Here the steep river Mehlbach has carved a narrow gorge which over the centuries provided power for all manner of industrial operations. Amongst other things, a significant quarrying operation grew up here, still in operation. One of the latest operations to find a home here is the maturation of 800 tonnes of Swiss cheese.

The same sketch pans around over the bow to take in the view up the lake towards His immediate destination of Alpnach.

The second records the view from the Alpnachersee looking south west through the gap in the mountains between the Burgenstock and the Stanserhorn.

[On a desktop, right click image for option to open full-size in new tab. Close tab to return to this page.]

Views on Lake circa 1841 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D33156

In the meantime, the panorama to the left opened up, and the artist turned his book around to continue the view to the left to record the view of the mountains above Stansstad, looking south-east. A distant peak caught his eye and he marked it ‘P’. Conditions remained clear, for this may be identified as the summit of Glarnisch, 2914m not far from Glarus and all of 51 km distant; but with its westerly snowslopes glinting in the afternoon sun. There was no chance of seeing any of the peaks when I was there in May 2014., but this tells us how keen Turner was to record very particular glimpses and phenomena. Glarnisch is only visible for a passage of a few hundred metres as the boat makes its way up the lake. He could presumably have asked the rowers to slow down a little whilst he made his sketch.

Views on Lake circa 1841 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D33156

Next: arrival at Alpnach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s