In 1842–3 Turner produced a group of ‘sample studies’ of Swiss subjects. Somewhere between sketches and fully worked-up paintings, they were intended to persuade patrons to commission completed watercolours. John Ruskin commissioned a finished version of this design. He considered Turner’s Swiss watercolours to be his supreme achievement.
Goldau had been the site of a rockfall in 1806. The massive boulders in the foreground recall this tragic event.