THE FALLS OF TESSIN, SWITZERLAND
Inscribed verso Cascade du Tessin dans le Canton d'Uri / WL pinx 1780
Watercolour with black chalk and pen & ink
40 x 55cm
Iolo Williams (1890-1962);
With Abbott & Holder;
Iolo Williams, Early English Watercolours, London (2nd ed., 1970), p.45
"...I have two large drawings in watercolour, crayon and pen, which thgough rather clumsy are pure Devis in style, and one of which is inscribed [as above]... I do not know who WL was, but it seems possible that he, or she, may have been a Lisyer and related to the T. Lister, of Mallam-Waterhouse, in Craven, Yorkshire, a view of whose house Devis (as Mr Paviere notes) exhibited at the Academy in 1781." (cf. Literature)
There is no evidence to suggest the existence of a William Lister, contra Williams' suggestion above, and although the hand does appear indebted to Devis (particularly the heavy use of black chalk) there are no extant records of a pupil of the artist with the initials WL. Tessin, in the canton of Uri, had been established as a site of artistic promise by William Pars, who had journeyed through the area ten years before the present subject (e.g. The Devil's bridge in the Canton of Uri, British Museum (Acc. no. 1870,0514.1221)) and exhibited at least one work at the Royal Academy the following year.
Further works by the mysterious W.L. can be found in the Leeds Art Gallery, donated as part of the Lupton Bequest in 1952 (Acc. No. 5.135/52 & 5.136/52. See the images above for a reproduction of the latter work in the Leeds Art Calendar, Issue 34, p.2.