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


Returning from an extended sojourn in the Swiss Alps, Turner approached his agent with the novel idea of soliciting patrons for large watercolors to be based on sketches from the trip. This view was commissioned by Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar (1797–1864) as part of the scheme in 1843, and was later owned by John Ruskin (1819–1900). It exhibits the technical prowess that made Turner controversial and celebrated. The monumental forms of the lake and mountains reveal successive layers of color—applied in fluent watercolors, drier washes, and semi-opaque mixtures—while the hazy mist and glittering reflections were scraped out of already painted areas, recovering the smooth white surface of the paper.