Exhibition catalogue text
38 The Top of the Spl?gen Pass 1781
Watercolour with pen and ink 148 x 212 (5 7/8 x 8 1/4)
Inscribed, verso, The top of the Spl?gen Pass
Prov: Foster's sale, 27 July 1910 (151), bt P.Opp?; by descent to 1996 when acquired by Tate Gallery (T08555).
Exh: Cambridge 1920 (17); BFAC 1929(12); Agnew's 1949 (34); Sheffield 1952 (65); Royal Academy 1958 (80); Amsterdam etc 1965 (116).
Lit: Hardie 1930, p.77; Hardie 1966, I, p.122; Bury 1962, p.144.
Tate Gallery. Purchased with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
Towne's ascent of Mount Spl?gen was accompanied by a sense of apprehension, mixed with anticipation. When he reached the top, he experienced a kind of elation. He paused to contemplate the infinite succession of mountains that came into view, knowing that his route must lead him further in among them. Towne made at least nine drawings on 29 August, over and above covering the considerable distance over the pass from Italy and down to the village of Spl?gen in Switzerland. As he travelled, he was creating for himself a new visual language in response to the exceptional landscape…