Lower Storey of an Old House, Brieg, SwitzerlandArtist:
Thomas Matthews Rooke
, British, 1842 - 1942
Material and Medium: watercolour an bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 410 x 496mm
Sight size: 220 x 316mm
Accession Number: CGSG00030
Rooke worked in Brieg (usually spelled Brig) and other towns in the Swiss Alps after he was commissioned by John Ruskin to paint the area’s ‘quaint streets and general picturesque.'
Although the impressive mountain scenery of the Alps had thrilled Ruskin since childhood, he also felt that the picturesque villages added a humble, human element that emphasised the power and majesty of nature. In this watercolour, Ruskin was particularly struck by the 'old shutters of [the] arched window and ancient grating on the left.’
Ruskin was also interested in people who lived in the Alps. He was intrigued by their hardworking lifestyle and the effect this had on their religious beliefs. Ruskin intended to write about this in a book called 'Our fathers have told Us', which he aimed to relate 'sketches of the history of Christendom.'
This interest traces back to when Ruskin was an 18 year-old, when in his book, 'The Poetry of Architecture', wrote about the construction of Swiss chalets and cottages. These he said, 'always suggest ideas of a gentle, pure and pastoral life.'