F. Matthews: 1895 Italian Sojourn

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This delightful collection of watercolours by British traveller F. Matthews comprises views principally in the Italian Lakes, around Como and Maggiore, and in the Swiss canton of Valais, dated 1895 to 1898. Rendered in fresh and luminous tones - pale blues and grass greens, punctuated with vivid touches of pink, purple, yellow and red - they present these popular European destinations through the eyes of a late-Victorian tourist.

Many views feature grand 19th-century hotels, with their elaborate lake-facing facades, terraces and Italianate gardens, or the ornate wooden chalets of Switzerland - thereby giving a real sense of the gentile experience of travel amongst the privileged at this time.

Interestingly, what was once viewed as traditional Swiss architectural style is now believed to be a later creation by foreign architects, who in the 18th and 19th centuries rebuilt many Swiss buildings along the lines of a romanticised conception of Swiss tradition.

The paintings in this collection are evidence of the fascination and affection held for the past during the Victorian era, a time of unprecedented technological advancement.