Finberg listed this as one of 22 leaves from this sketchbook found ‘in a parcel labelled by Mr. Ruskin – “M. 16. Leaves of S. 229. Laid down.” They have been mounted on cartridge by Mr. Ruskin.’ Evidently, Ruskin isolated these drawings because they were pencil outlines, without the additions of chalk or gouache found elsewhere in the sketchbook.
Turner passed by St Maurice in 1802 on his way north along the lower Rhône Valley from Martigny to Villeneuve and Lake Geneva. The initial letter, if written on the drawing by Turner, would indicate a commission for a finished version, probably in watercolour. ‘A’ might be the wine merchant John Allnutt who may have commissioned two paintings of the Pass of St Gotthard and Devil’s Bridge from Turner in 1804 after seeing watercolours of the subject in his studio that year; he could have considered other subjects from on-the-spot drawings as well. See also from this sketchbook D04575; Turner Bequest LXXIV 82. Turner noted ‘1 St. Maurice’ in a list of French and Swiss subjects on the back of a random pencil sketch (Tate D08253; Turner Bequest CXX m).
Turner designed a totally different view of St Maurice, with its Roman bridge, for the illustrated edition of Samuel Rogers’s poem Italy (1830), where it was engraved by Robert Wallis; the watercolour is Tate D27664; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 147.