This is a preliminary study for Turner’s vignette illustration, St Maurice (see Tate D27664; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 147). The finished version of the design contains far more detail, but both images share the same essential composition. As with the vignette depicting the chapel of William Tell, the close relationship between Turner’s preliminary and final designs suggests that he had a clear notion of how he wanted to develop this subject from the outset (see Tate D27622; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 105 and Tate D27672; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 155). There are, nonetheless, several subtle differences between the two versions. Adele Holcomb has pointed out that this study ‘conveys a sense of tumultuous movement and a grandeur of scale in the mountains as compared with the modest size of the bridge.’1 By contrast, in the finished vignette, Turner has enlarged the bridge and moved it forward, which limits the viewer’s access to the landscape beyond. As a result, the finished composition lacks much of the dynamism and illusionistic depth of this early study.
Holcomb 1966, p.55.
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