Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bellinzona from the Road to Locarno: Sample Study


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 229 x 289 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXXXII 25

Display caption

Ruskin considered the town of Bellinzona, 'on the whole, the most picturesque in Switzerland, being crowned by three fortresses, standing on isolated rocks of noble form, while the buildings are full of beautiful Italian character'. The group of eight subjects shown here derive from the visits Turner made to Bellinzona in 1842 and 1843, the use of warmer colours relating to the second visit. In 1845 Ruskin wrote to his father while on a visit to the Swiss town: 'Bellinzona fine in form, but Turner's single sketch worth the whole valley with all the towns in it'. The sketch he had in mind was no.48, which he felt surpassed the finished version produced for H.A.J.Munro of Novar (Aberdeen Art Gallery).

Gallery label, August 2004