The Lower Church, Brieg, SwitzerlandArtist:
Thomas Matthews Rooke
, British, 1842 - 1942
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 697 x 650 x 35mm
Sight size: 469 x 385mm
Accession Number: CGSG00226
Brieg (usually called ‘Brig’) is a historic town in the mountainous Valais region of Switzerland. The area was thriving by the 1500s due to the Simplon Pass, a natural route through the mountains from Brig into Italy. By the 1800s the area had became a focus for Alpine tourists as a new carriage road through the Pass allowed the region to be reached more easily.
Rooke based himself in Brig after receiving a commission from Ruskin to paint 'as much of the quaint streets and general picturesque as you feel able.' Although the impressive mountain scenery of the Alps had thrilled Ruskin since childhood, he also felt that the Alpine villages emphasised the power and majesty of nature. Ruskin was also intrigued by the hardworking lifestyle of Alpine workers and the effect this had on their religious beliefs. Ruskin intended to write about this in a book called 'Our fathers have told Us', although he never completed the work.