Neuhaus was Turner’s landing place at the far end of Lake Thun. As David Hill notes, there was a small hut or ‘cabaret’ at the landing stage, where he paused to make some sketches, probably while sheltering from the storm seen here. Storm clouds, indicated by swift hatching, roll over the Niesen in the left distance and a single sharply curving line describes a bolt of lightning falling to the water in front of the Stockhorn on the right. To his artist-colleague Joseph Farington, Turner reported the impression made upon him by the ‘very fine Thunder Storms’1 he had experienced in the Swiss mountains, one which endured long enough also to be remembered by John Ruskin.2
The sketch formed the basis of a watercolour made for Walter Fawkes (on the London art market, 2007)3, in which the storm and lightning were developed to dramatic effect and, together with soldiers in the right foreground who might be unloading guns and shot, presumably alluded to the French occupation of Switzerland and to local resistance. Turner’s reworking for Fawkes of his sketch of the landing place at Fluelen on Lake Lucerne on folio 41 (D04698) contains a similar reference, in the form of a weeping woman. The view of Lake Thun also became a plate in the Liber Studiorum, with a soldier added to the centre foreground; Turner’s drawing for it is Tate D08119; Turner Bequest CXVI R).
Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre eds., The Diary of Joseph Farington, vol.V, New Haven and London 1980, p.1889.
John Ruskin, Notes by Mr Ruskin on His Collection of Drawings by the Late J.M.W. Turner, R.A., Exhibited at the Fine Art Society’s Galleries, London 1878, pp.17–18.
Wilton 1979, p.342 no.373; Sotheby’s, 4 July 2007 (lot 12).
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘587’ top left, descending vertically