Joseph Mallord William Turner

Küssnacht, Lake of Lucerne: Sample Study


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and pen on paper
Support: 228 × 292 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 208

Display caption

This view of Kussnacht is a study for the watercolour now in Manchester City Art Gallery, which was commissioned by H.A.J.Munro of Novar in 1843. Like much of the area around Lake Lucerne, the history of Kussnacht is steeped in the legends associated with William Tell and his part in the liberation of Switzerland from Austrian rule. By the time of Turner's visit in 1842, Schiller and Rossini had already turned Tell's life into the stuff of theatre and opera. Although there were already doubts about some details of the Tell myth, Turner dutifully recorded the chapel just outside the village, which stands close to the spot where Tell is supposed to have killed the oppressive Gessler.

Gallery label, August 2004

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