Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Pfaffensprung and Gorge of the River Reuss


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

Chalk and graphite on paper
Support: 315 x 473 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXV 36

Catalogue entry

Turner’s expedition into the St Gotthard Pass and through the gorge of the River Reuss, when he saw the two famous ‘Devil’s Bridges’, was effectively the climax of his mountain tour in 1802. He drew the ‘Little Devil’s Bridge’, or Pfaffensprung or ‘Priest’s Leap’, over the Reuss on the way up to Wassen on the St Gotthard road, in this sketchbook and the smaller Lake Thun sketchbook (Tate D04732–D04733; Turner Bequest LXXVI 72–3). Combined and dramatised, his sketches inspired the plate Little Devil’s Bridge for the Liber Studiorum; Turner’s drawing for it is Tate D08123; Turner Bequest CXVI V.
One of Turner’s larger sketches, drawn on separate sheets during his 1802 tour, may also depict the bridge but the identification (suggested by Finberg) is not certain (Tate D04888; Turner Bequest LXXIX N).
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘244’

David Blayney Brown
October 2011

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