In Turner’s Footsteps between Lucerne and Thun: #21 Giswil and the Kaiserstuhl

Here we continue our journey through Turner’s Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook. In the last part he passed through Sachseln and here he reaches Giswil and ascends the Kaiserstuhl towards Lungern. As the char trundled along he accidentally turned over two pages of his sketchbook so we pick up the sequence on the succeeding page spreads.

Turner’s Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook, Tate, open at pages 21a-22

Turner’s Between Lucerne and Thun sketchbook, Tate, open at pages 22a-23

The first sketch in this sequence is that on the left page of the first spread (f.21v)

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Mountains 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/D33173

Here Turner records the view of the Giswilerstock from where the road drops down to the side of the Sarnersee, not far from the lake head.

This page also contains a few lines of hasty scribble to the right. This appears to be a view of the Lungernsee, entered out of sequence. We will return to that at the end of this section.

Indeed the order of the sketches in this part of the book appears as shaken up as the draftsmanship. The sequence is scattered backwards and forwards across the pages.

Mountains: Kirkstoff [Turner]. (?Kirchhoft, near Sarnen) 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/D33175

The next is sequence is that on the left-hand page (f.22a) of the succeeding spread. This shows the view of the Giswilerstock and the church of Giswil from near the present Giswil railway station. Turner inscribes the village around the church ‘Kirkstoff’ and more illegibly top left, possibly ‘Brunig’. Nearing the village, the Giswilerstock takes on a dramatic tooth-like profile, and as unsteadily as Turner has set down his forms, he has still managed to include indications of the rays of westerly sunlight cascading over the peak.

Mountains 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/D33176

The next sketch in sequence is that on the page opposite (f.23r) which records the Giswilerstock and Giswil church from near the present Hotel Krone where the road begins its climb of a little over 200m up the Kaiserstuhl to the valley of the Lungernsee.

Fresh horses might have been hitched for the climb, and Turner appears to have had time to make two firmly drawn sketches of the view from close to the remains of the thirteenth century castle of the Rudenz on a mound that guards the beginning of the climb.

Mountains. Korchstoff [Turner]. (?Kirchhoft) 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/D33177

The first (23v) scans the whole panorama from the Kaiserstuhl at the left with mountains [?’Mts’] seen over, across to the Giswilerstock at the right, rays of light streaming over, and Giswil church – inscribed ‘Kirchehoff’ – at the lower right. In the foreground the river Aa loops round towards us.

Mountains. Korchstoff [Turner]. (?Kirchhoft) 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/D33177

At the top of this page is a small detail of a ruined tower. Might this be the castle of Rudenz? The remains are by no means so tall today, but it might be possible to corroborate the identification through more local records?

Castle of Rudenz. Glimpsed from the train, 30 May 2014. Professor Emeritus David Hill

The page also contains a quick thumbnail of the Reichenbach falls, which Turner was to visit in a couple of days’ time. We will return to that in due course.

Turner seems to have been decidedly impressed with the scenery around Giswil, and set down sufficient information to develop into a watercolour. Before leaving, he made another sketch [the middle sketch of three on f.22r]

Mountains 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/D33174

And a third [the lower sketch on f.22r] panning round to the right from the Giswilerstock to look across the valley from where the road overlooks a wide loop of the river Aa.

Mountains 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/D33174

Turner does not appear to have made any sketches on the ascent of the Kaiserstuhl. It is a steadily graded ascent, and the horses would no doubt have gone up at a sedate pace.

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Turner could have felt justified in resting his eyes and pencil and reflecting on the possibilities of his clutch of sketches from Giswil. It is tempting to wonder whether the late sexagenarian might not have taken the opportunity to doze off.

Next: The Lungernsee

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