Mountain Gorge Drawing
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as a “a mountain gorge” (Ruskin, Works, 2:364 n. 1). The drawing is a copy of William Brockedonʼs chapter‐title vignette for “The Pass of the Simplon”, The Great Gallery near Gondo, engraved by Edward Finden, in Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps (vol. 2, “The Pass of the Simplon ”, title page).
According to Ruskinʼs List of Proposed Additional Contents for the Account of a Tour on the Continent, he destined this drawing for a section entitled “Farewell to Italy”, referring to the crossing into Switzerland via the Simplon Pass. Along with the vignette, a copy of another plate from Brockedonʼs Simplon chapter, Val dʼOssola from the Defile of the Dovedro, were to be placed in reverse order from their appearance in the Illustrations, since the Ruskinsʼ itinerary carried them in the opposite direction from Brockedonʼs imagined traveler.
Brockedon dwells on “les belles horreurs of the Simplon”, particularly the narrow Gondo Gorge, where several dramatic features converge to form the scene in the vignette: “the rocky and perpendicular bases of the mountains approach more closely, leaving only space for the road and the foaming torrent [of the Diveria River], which the latter in some places entirely usurps; and in such places the road is carried through galleries cut in the rocks. . . . [T]he wonder of this part of the road is the great gallery, which is formed just below the place where a bridge leads from the right to the left bank of the Dovedro [i.e., Diveria]. The ravine appears to be closed in, and the only passage is by one of the most stupendous works ever accomplished—a gallery, cut through the granite, 596 English feet long, which at the opening on the Italian side crosses the waterfall of the Frassinone: this torrent, falling from a great height, rushes through the bridge thrown across it, and descends above 100 feet into the Dovedro, where the latter river, forming a cataract, meets the waters of the Frassinone in horrible commotion: it is a spot unrivalled in its astonishing effect” (Brockedon, Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps (vol. 2, “The Pass of the Simplon ”, 12; see also Ebel, Travellerʼs Guide through Switzerland, 84–85, in which the river forming the cataract is also named the Alpirnbach—today, the Alpjerbach and Alpjerfall).