Description

    JOHN RUSKIN (British, 1819-1900)
    Drawing and Engraving of Lake of Zug (2), circa 1878

    Lake of Zug (with ink and wash drawing of a tree on the verso)
    Ink and brown wash on cardboard
    Image: 6 1/4 x 10 inches (15.9 x 25.4 cm);
    Sheet: 6 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches (17.1 x 29.8 cm)
    Inscribed in the margin recto: "Lake of Zug" / This was done by John Ruskin as a guide / to Mr. Lupton for depth of colour for the plate

    Lake of Zug
    Engraving
    Image: 5 x 7 3/4 inches (12.7 x 19.7 cm);
    Sheet: 6 x 8-3/4 inches (15.2 x 22.2 cm);
    Inscribed in the margin recto: On the 1st of January, 1878, will be published. D.V. Fas Cl. / IInd Series. Letter 1.
    Inscribed on verso: The writing on the other side is by John Ruskin and was the first announcement / to us of the 2nd series of ___. G. Allen

    In 1843 the London art patron Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar commissioned J.M.W. Turner, his close friend and traveling companion, to paint a large-scale watercolor based on sketches from his recent trip to the Swiss Alps. The resulting The Lake of Zug (Metropolitan Museum), a companion piece to Goldau, is today considered one of Turner's finest atmospheric watercolors, yet at the time, Munro was displeased with the drawing, finding it too blue, and gave it to John Ruskin, a fellow collector and champion of Turner. As an art critic, Ruskin wrote prolifically about Turner, most notably in his five-volume Modern Painters, which celebrated Turner's painterly truth to nature. For this massive literary undertaking, Ruskin employed a handful of engravers, including Thomas Goff Lupton, to translate Turner's artwork into illustrations.

    Indeed, the present Heritage lot shows this very creative process: in 1878 Ruskin made an etching of Turner's The Lake of Zug, and Ruskin's ink-and-wash sketch (1) served as a directive to the printer, Mr. Lupton, who then executed an engraving (2) for Volume V of Modern Painters (Plate 87). Ruskin described this engraving, and, by extension, Turner's original watercolor, in Chapter XI of Modern Painters:

    The Lake of Zug, which ripples beneath the sunset in the Goldau, is lulled in the level azure of early cloud; and the spire of Arth, which is there a dark point at the edge of the golden lake, is, in the opening light, seen pale against purple mountains. [Turner's] sketches for these two subjects were, I doubt not, made from the actual effects of a stormy evening, and the next following daybreak; but both with earnest meaning. The crimson sunset lights the valley of rock tombs, cast upon it by the fallen Rossberg; but the sunrise gilds with its level rays the two peaks which protect the village that gives name to Switzerland; and the orb itself breaks first through the darkness on the very point of the pass to the high lake of Egeri, where the liberties of the cantons were won by the battle-charge of Morgarten. (Plate 87)1

    1J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, Volume V, in The Works of John Ruskin, Volume VII, London, 1905, note 31, p. 438-9.


    Condition Report*:

    Both mezzotint and watercolor are slightly discolored overall due to light exposure (more severe on the print) and contact with acidic materials. Edges are worn and corners are slightly creased. Both sheets have evidence of professional conservation of abrasions.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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