Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 56. Gersau on the Lake of Lucerne, Switzerland.

William Pars, A.R.A.

Gersau on the Lake of Lucerne, Switzerland

Auction Closed

July 3, 10:51 AM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 GBP

Lot Details


William Pars A.R.A.

(London 1742 - 1782 Rome)

Gersau on the Lake of Lucerne, Switzerland

Watercolour over traces of pencil, heightened with pen and black ink, on laid paper

242 by 336 mm

Leonard Gordon Duke, C.B.E. (1890-1971);

with Spink's, London, by 1970,

when sold to Walter Brandt (1902-1978),

by descent until,

sale, London, Sotheby's, 7 July 2011, lot 209,

where acquired by the uncle of the present owner

A. Wilton, William Pars, Journey through the Alps, London 1979, pp. 15, 22, 23 & 54, no. 25

This watercolour dates to circa 1775 and was drawn following Pars’ tour to Switzerland with Henry, 3rd Viscount Palmerston in the summer of 1770. Palmerston's party left London in June and was not to return until late autumn. Lord Palmerston kept a written account of the tour and recorded that, having reached Lucerne on the 11th August, two days later he hired an ‘awkward ill-contrived boat’ in order to explore the lake itself. Gersau, which he says they ‘stopped to see’, is a pretty village situated on the southern slopes of the Rigi, near to the town of Brunnen.1

Once back in London Pars set about working up watercolours from the sketches he had made while abroad. Some were made for his principle patron, Palmerston, while seven were exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1775.2 Andrew Wilton has suggested that the present drawing was one of two by Pars of this subject; the other version's present whereabouts is unknown.3

In 1775 Pars eloped to Rome with the wife of the portrait miniaturist, John Smart. He was never to return to England as, in 1782, he fell ill while sketching at Tivoli and died.

The drawing has belonged to two very distinguished collectors of early British drawings: Leonard G. Duke and Walter Brandt.


  1. A. Wilton, op. cit, p. 22    
  2. These were the first specifically Alpine views to be seen publicly in England
  3. A. Wilton, op. cit., p. 22