The extraordinary topography of the Alps was, at the time, starting to attract both scientists and artists. Whilst the pair were not the first British painters to visit the mountain range – William Pars (1742-1782) did so before them – they were certainly among the first to travel through documenting the impressive surroundings.
The dramatic mountain range is bathed in early morning light to the right of the composition, in contrast to the left, where the mountain slopes remain shrouded in darkness. The sheer size of the mountains seems to stand in stark opposition to the stillness of the lake, and the noticeable lack of human activity emphasizes the bucolic nature of the scene.
Towne’s experiments with light and shadow were developed during his time in the Alps. Later, in 1786, Towne experimented further with light and shadow on his trip to the Lake District, see for example Ambleside, 1786 (Victoria & Albert Museum, P.19-1921), in which he develops his techniques to record an atmospheric weather transition, which he captions as: Taken at the going off of a storm.
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