Alpine Scene with Lake and Vegetation
John Wharlton Bunney
Date Made/Found: mid 19th-late 19th Century
, British, 1828 - 1882
Material and Medium: watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Support: 195 x 280mm
Mount: 330 x 420mm
Accession Number: CGSGB983
At the lower edge of this drawing is an inscription in Italian, said to be by John Ruskin: 'Benissime - ma bisogna, per finire, di piu cura e fedelta'. This translates as 'Very good, but needs finishing with more care and truthfulness.'
It’s probable that Ruskin's comment relates to Bunney's study of the foliage. Ruskin always insisted that artists studied foliage carefully, depicting detailed leaf outlines and the individual shape of branches, rather than simply giving an impression of the general shape. These studies are however unusual for John Bunney, who observed his subjects carefully and whose studies of trees and foliage are usually very detailed.
The larger scene's colouration and romantic appearance is in the style of the 'vignettes' or small scenes by JMW Turner, made to illustrate poetry books by Samuel Rogers. Despite their 'untruthful' romanticism or idealism, Turner's vignette scenes inspired Ruskin's lifelong admiration of Turner's artwork.