Samuel Hieronymous Grimm

The Glacier of Simmenthal


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Samuel Hieronymous Grimm 1733–1794
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 295 × 371 mm
Purchased 1983

Display caption

A native of Switzerland, Grimm frequently portrayed its glaciers, even after he settled in England in 1768. Here he depicts a glacier near the source of the river Simme, seen at the left, in the Bernese Alps. Gilbert White commissioned Grimm to illustrate his 'Natural History of Selbourne' and described his typical working method: he 'first of all sketches his scapes with a lead-pencil; then he pens them all over ... with indian ink ... then he gives a charming shading with a brush dipped in indian ink; and at last he throws a light tinge of water-colours over the whole'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry


Watercolour on hand-made laid paper 11 5/8 × 14 5/8 (295 × 371)
Inscribed ‘S.H. Grimm 1774’ b.r.; inscribed on the back ‘The Glaciere of Simmenthal. | The borders of the distanz consist of a row of towering masses of pure Ice, a Glaciere extends itself from it on all sides, & evacuates its | Superfluities between two high Rocks into the Valley. On the left side of the picture the River Simmen tackes its origin & gives | the name to the valley’
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Prov: ...; Edward Basil Jupp (d.1877); Thomas William Waller; Elizabeth Stauffer Moore, by descent to Elizabeth Richardson Simmons, by whom sold Christie's 12 November 1968 (74) bt Agnew; purchased from Agnew by Walter Beck, bequeathed to his niece Margot Beck, by whom re-sold to Agnew, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Exh: 110th Annual Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, Agnew 1983 (27)

Grimm exhibited ‘A Glaciere in Switzerland’ at the RA in 1774 (113) and ‘A View in the Alps, Switzerland; a stained drawing’ at the RA in 1775 (143). A native of Switzerland, Grimm frequently portrayed its glaciers, making it difficult to identify the two drawings exhibited at the RA. He designed some of the views of glaciers which illustrated G.S. Gruner, Die Eisgebirge des Schweizerlandes, 2 vols., 1760 (republished in French, 1770); but the view of Simmenthal included in the first volume of Gruner was engraved after Koch, not Grimm. Grimm also drew ‘Seven capital Views of Switzerland’ (mainly glaciers) for James Tobin; these are discussed by Rotha Mary Clay, Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1941, pp.5–10. Some of Grimm's drawings of glaciers are reproduced in Clay, pls.6, 8, 9 and 10 (between pp.8 and 9).

The glacier of Simmenthal is a fall of the Simme river which rises in the Bernese Alps and joins the Kander river, near Thun, in south-west central Switzerland.

This drawing was one of several hundred drawings by various artists bound in one of the two extra-illustrated series of volumes containing a complete collection of the exhibition catalogues of the Society of Artists of Great Britain and the Free Society of Artists, compiled by Edward Basil Jupp in 1871. The volumes were broken up for Christie's sale of 12 November 1968.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986


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