The Lake of Zug

Artist: Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, London 1775–1851 London)

Date: 1843

Medium: Watercolor over graphite

Dimensions: 11 3/4 x 18 3/8 in. (29.8 x 46.6 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Marquand Fund, 1959

Accession Number: 59.120

Description

Returning from an extended sojourn in the Swiss Alps, Turner solicited patrons for large watercolors to be based on sketches from the trip. This view was commissioned by Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar in 1843, and was later owned by John Ruskin. Its accomplished rendering of light and atmospheric effects is characteristic of Turner's finest work. The drawing exhibits the technical prowess that made Turner both controversial and celebrated. The lake and mountains display successive applications of color—in dilute washes, drier watercolors, and semi-opaque mixtures—while the mist and reflections reveal the smooth white surface of the paper scraped out of an already painted area. The sun rises between the mountains Rossberg and Mythen behind the town of Arth while, in the foreground, nude girls play in the lake as villagers approach the shore and set out in boats.

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