Joseph Mallord William Turner

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
(1775–1851)

The Pass at Faido, St. Gotthard

19th century
Watercolor, point of brush, scratching out, over traces of pencil
11 15/16 x 18 1/2 inches (303 x 469 mm)

Thaw Collection

2006.52
Item description: 

On commission from John Ruskin, his most ardent patron, Turner began this drawing with quick pencil sketches worked up into a "sample study." In executing the finished watercolor, he widened the view and vertically compressed the design, eliminating the sky and lowering the viewpoint so that one feels about to be swept into the foreground torrent. Traveling to Faido in 1845, Ruskin was surprised to discover that "the mountains, compared with Turner's colossal conception, look pigmy & poor."