Joseph Mallord William Turner

Five Views on Lake Maggiore; Including Intra, Villa Balabio and the Rocca di Caldé


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

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 Intra. They have been fully identified by Federico Crimi.1
The uppermost horizontal vista represents a view looking north-east from a point on the lake near between Intra and Laveno. Visible in the background to the left is the promontory of Cannero, while the horizon is dominated by the profiles of Monte Tamaro, Monte Lema and Monte Cadrigna. To the right is the bay enclosing the town of Laveno. A small part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 75 verso (D14289; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 74a). Turner has annotated the drawing with extensive notes on colour, tone and locations. These are variously throughout the sketch: ‘Light’, ‘Blue Clouds’, ‘R Light’, ‘cloudy | yel haze | below the mountains’, ‘[?D...]’, ‘Blue’, ‘Lavino’, ‘[?too light]’, [?too light], ‘[?Giuliano]’, ‘Sea’, ‘Green’, ‘Sea green with dark waves’, ‘Boats have the [sketch of awning] over the edge | close seat behind for the tiller, which is changed: the Maggiore one had the tiller [sketch], the Steersman sat upon the spare oar’. Eric Shanes has linked the study with the composition of a later watercolour study (see Tate D25487; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 364).2
The remaining two horizontal sketches both depict the town of Intra on the Borromean Gulf.3 The central vista depicts Intra from the north-east. Just in front of the town is the promontory of Arizzano with the so-called Villa Balabio (also known as the Villa Caccia-Piatti e Prina, or the Villa delle torre). At the bottom meanwhile is an alternative view from the south-east with the Ponte San Giovanni. Both sketches include the prominent campanile of the Cathedral of San Vittore. The lower study includes an inscription ‘Intra’, and the artist has also noted the rough location of two of the most significant locations in the Swiss Alps, the peak of Monte ‘Rosa’ and the Pass of St ‘Gothard’.

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

Crimi 2009, pp.60–1.
Shanes 1997, p.98.
NB. During the twentieth century Intra was united as a municipality with nearby Pallanza under the name Verbania.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like