Joseph Mallord William Turner

Five Sketches on Lake Maggiore; Including Intra and the Rocca di Caldé, and Two of the Borromean Islands


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 75 a

Catalogue entry

As he had already done on Lakes Como and Lugano, Turner toured Lake Maggiore by boat, leaving Luino and heading west toward Baveno, see folios 76–78 verso (D14290–D14297; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 75–78a). The five sketches on this page all represent views seen from the waters of the lake between Luino and Stresa. Three have been drawn with the sketchbook held vertically while the remaining two are horizontal. Their subjects have been identified by Federico Crimi.1
The three vertical sketches have been executed on the left-hand side of the sheet. As Turner’s inscription indicates the uppermost of these is a small study of the distant town of Intra. Beneath this is a view of the Rocca di Caldé from the north which the artist has annotated with a note concerning the aesthetic contrast of the white sails of a boat amid the blue of the lake. Finally, the third and bottom sketch is unidentified although Turner’s notes marking the distant peak of Monte ‘Rosa’ in the Swiss Alps, as well as the Pass of St ‘Gothard’ indicate that it is a view of the western shore.2
The two remaining sketches, drawn horizontally on the page, represent vistas within the Borromean Gulf. At the top is part of a view of the Borromean islands from the east. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 77 (D14292; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 76) but visible on this side is Isola Bella on the left, and Isola Madre on the right. At the bottom is a study of the smaller island, Isolino San Giovanni, from the east with part of the shore of the mainland and the campanile of the Church of San Lorenzo in Pallanza on the far right-hand side. Turner also drew the island during a later Italian tour in 1842 or 1843 (see for example Tate D34902; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 408).

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

Crimi 2009, pp.60–1.
Crimi has tentatively suggested it may depict Belgirate or Mergozzo. Ibid., p.61.

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