The Matterhorn from the Moat of the RiffelhornArtist:
, British, 1819 - 1900
Material and Medium: pencil and watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 366 x 438mm
Sight size: 217 x 294mm
Accession Number: CGSG00146
This is one of several Matterhorn studies Ruskin made to illustrate his book Modern Painters, Volume IV, which he entitled Of Mountain Beauty. He drew it from different angles so readers could trace the contours around the mountain.
Ruskin later wrote that his drawings for Modern Painters IV were ‘the first faithful drawings’ of the Alps. He felt that geologists had made their studies of the Matterhorn ‘under the influence of considerable excitement’ due to its unusual shape. He therefore photographed the mountain too, checking his studies were accurate.
At this time, no one had ever climbed the Matterhorn, so illustrations of it were in reality quite vague. Nevertheless Ruskin's geological mentor, James Forbes, had led him to take a scientific interest in its rock structure and Ruskin tried to show that the act of spending time drawing mountains from different angles and distances helped one study and see them with greater understanding.