This is one of two leaves in this sketchbook marked up with the initial ‘F’, indicating a commission for or purchase of a finished watercolour of the subjects by Walter Fawkes; the other is folio 36 (D04777). In the latter instance a variant composition seems to have materialised. Were this not the case, the question might arise whether the initials were added later, to record Fawkes’s acquisition of the related work. For Fawkes’s ownership of almost all the watercolours that Turner made from his 1802 material until as late as 1820, see notes to folio 17 verso of this sketchbook (D04753).
The present sketch was developed first in a colour study (Tate D04898, Turner Bequest LXXX E), and then in Fawkes’s watercolour showing the lake and town of Brienz by moonlight (private collection).1 The view is taken from the water, with the Brünig Pass in the background. Andrew Wilton gives a separate listing for the Town of Brienz exhibited by Fawkes at his London house in Grosvenor Place in 1819, but acknowledges that this could have been the same watercolour.2 Turner may have conceived the moonlight view, showing boats approaching Brienz at evening, as a pair with the morning scene, taken from the town’s quay with a boat setting out, which he dated 1809 (British Museum, London);3 together they perhaps recalled a day’s excursion on the lake such as the one he made to the castle of Ringgenberg, for which see folios 17 verso and 23 verso of this sketchbook (D04753, D04761). The 1809 watercolour of Brienz also had its origin in this sketchbook, folio 38 (D04780). However, it was not bought by Fawkes but commissioned by Sir John Swinburne.