J. M. W. Turner's £1.8m 'Lake of Lucerne From Brunnen' to Lead Sotheby's Old Master & British Works on Paper

Sotheby’s Old Master & British Works on Paper sale is going to offer 227 lots, including works by leading British, French, Flemish, Dutch and Italian masters of the 17th to early 19th century. Amongst the large number of pieces to be auctioned, the star of the sale is Joseph Mallord William Turner’s (J. M. W. Turner) The Lake of Lucerne From Brunnen which has an estimate of £1.2m - 1.8m (US$1.6m - 2.4m). 

J. M. W. Turner's The Lake of Lucerne From Brunnen

This watercolour painting by the English Romantic painter had remained in private hands previously. Commissioned in 1842, the masterpiece is a part of the 25 ‘finished’ Swiss landscapes that Turner painted during the last ten years of his life. 20 of the landscapes are now held in museum collections.

View of the Lake of Lucerne now     

The work depicts one of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Switzerland. Positioned high above the village of Brunnen which is located on the Eastern shores of Lake Lucerne, Turner in this painting looks away south at the Bay of Uri. A white sail highlights the waterside village of Fluelen under the Oberbaunstock and Uri-Rotstock mountains.

Part of the painting

Turner has captured the complex light effects of the early morning haze in this piece. The sky is filled with a golden light which floods the mountains with warmth. Mist rises up from the deep blue water, melting seamlessly into the lake.

Part of the painting

Turner embarked on his first tour to Switzerland in 1802, travelling to as far as the Splügen Pass. All throughout his tour, he recorded landscapes, people and architecture that captured his attention hastily in sketchbooks. Some of these sketches, for instance this current painting, were turned into much more-highly coloured studies later when he returned home to England.

One of the sketches by Turner

Another painting from this series, also previously in private hands, The Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen, with a Steamer, was sold at Christie's in January this year for over US$1,092,500.

J. M. W. Turner’s The Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen, with a Steamer, sold at Christie’s in January this year for US$1,092,500

Top lot

Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. The Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen.

Lot no.: 209
Painted in: circa 1841
Size: 30.8 x 46.9 cm

  • Elhanan Bicknell (1788-1861) purchased from the artist through Thomas Griffith, 1842, his sale, London, Christie's, 30 April 1863, lot 265 as 'Lake Lucerne', bt. Colnaghi on behalf of J. Smith (£714); John Smith (1810-1869)
  • sale, London, Christie's, 15 April 1869, lot 51, bt. Lord Dudley (£1,029)
  • William, 1st Earl of Dudley (1816-1885); with Agnew’s, London
  • James Irvine Smith (1830-1908); with Agnew's, London
  • by whom sold to Sir Donald Currie, G.C.M.G. (1825-1909), 1907 (£2,400)
  • thence by family descent to Major George Wisely, M.C. (1859-1924)
  • by descent to his wife Mrs George Wisely, née Maria Currie;with Agnew's, London
  • from whom acquired by the father of the present owner, 1968

Estimate: £1,200,000 - 1,800,000

Auction details

Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Old Master & British Works On Paper
Lots offered: 227
2018/6/30, 7/1|12pm - 5pm
2018/7/2, 7/3|9am - 4:30pm
Sale date: 2018/7/4|10am