Unascribed Drawing 2 of 8 for Account of a Tour on the Continent (MS IX)

Vignette after “Ancient Fortress and Rocky peak / Above the vale of Balstall”

Pen and ink, approx. ? × ? cm (image only).
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “mountain heights, a castle on one” (Ruskin, Works, 2:364 n. 1). The drawing is a vignette based on an original drawing by Ruskin, which he entitled “Ancient Fortress and Rocky peak. / Above the vale of Balstall, Jura, and which is one of two sketches on the sheet Balsthal; Mont Blanc from Geneva, Ruskin Library, Lancaster. “Ancient Fortress and Rocky peak” is reproduced in Walton, Drawings of John Ruskin (p. 15).
According to Ruskinʼs Plan for Continuation of the Account of a Tour on the Continent, he intended a section entitled “Balstall”, falling between the sections “Rhine” and “Neufchatel”, and it was to be illustrated by a scene that could well refer to this drawing: “Fortress. View of Alps”. See List of Proposed Additional Contents: Balstall; see also Account of a Tour on the Continent: Missing and Unidentified Drawings for the Composite‐Genre Illustrated Travelogue (MS IX) and Related 1833 Tour Sketches; and Drawings from the Tour of 1833.
The location is Balsthal, in the canton of Solothurn, Switzerland. Of the two castles in the valley, this drawing apparently represents the Neu‐Falkenstein Castle. In his 1838 guidebook to Switzerland, John Murray III comments on these “imposing ruins of the Castle of Falkenstein, surmounted by its circular Donjon, [which] rise midway between the two roads to Bâle [i.e., Basel], by the Hauenstein and by the Passwang [i.e., two mountain passes in the Jura] which unite here. This position gave to its ancient owners the powers of levying blackmail upon each of these passes. It belonged at one time to Rudolph von Wart, who was broken on the wheel for his share in the murder of the [Habsburg] Emperor Albert [i.e., Albrecht I (ca. 1250–1308)], and was consoled in his agony by the presence and fortitude of his wife” (Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 9–10).
The fortitude of the assassinʼs wife at the scene of his torture is memorialized by Felicia Hemans in an 1826 poem, “Gertrude, or Fidelity till Death”, collected in Records of Woman: With Other Poems (1828). Susan Wolfson points out that Hemans depicts Albrechtʼs death in another poem of the period, “A Monarchʼs Death‐Bed” in Friendshipʼs Offering: A Literary Album (1826), 1–2. See Hemans, Selected Poems, ed. Wolfson, 356–58. In the latter poem, Albrechtʼs sole comforter is a peasant woman on the riverbank where he was murdered. For the political significance of this regicide respecting the alliances among Swiss communities on the one hand, and dynastic rivalries on the other, see Church and Head, Concise History of Switzerland, 25).
In 1798, Neu‐Falkenstein Castle was burned by peasants under the leadership of Johann Brunner (“Rössli Jean”) at the start of the Helvetic Revolution, when French Revolutionary troops invaded Switzerland with the aim of establishing a sister Helvetic Republic.