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Sculptural Watercolour®  l'Aquarelle sculpturale


Arveyron Gorge, Chamonix, France
Once the Glacier des Bois


Sources of the Arveyron - 2011

Les gorges de l'Arveyron from a large rock called Les Sources de l'Arveyron

In the far distance are the Aiguilles (needles) des Drus.
We are in the Mont Blanc Massif, France. close to Italy and Switzerland.

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Or continue reading to discover the story behind this painting:

Prue Bishop studying the scene prior to devising the above Sculptural Watercolour

Left: Prue Bishop studying the Gorges de l'Arveyron from a rock scratched by the passage of the Glacier des Bois that completely covered this area when tourists came to Chamonix in the 1800s. In view of that history, it is perhaps rather confusing that for today's hikers, this rock viewpoint is called Les Sources de l'Arveyron.

Above: From the same position as in the left-hand photo, this is the view down the Arveyron Valley, with Chamonix almost out of view in the far distance. Had you been here 200 years ago, you would have been deep inside glacial ice that stretched into the middle distance - at least a one-hour walk from here - terminating in an ice cave.

Today, this is a remarkably changed scene, with no ice in veiw either upstream or downstream.

Towards the end of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th, the Source de l'Arveyron was actually an ice cave at the end of the now-completely-gone Glacier des Bois. This ice cave became a 'must see' feature as tourism to Chamonix developed, and it features in many drawings, paintings and prints from that period. It was close to the hamlet of Les Bois and less than a 30-minute walk from Chamonix. Below are two examples:

Vue de la Sourse de l'Arveron prit près de Chamouny - Jean-Antoine Linck watercolour - env 1800

Watercolour sketch by J M W Turner of The Source of The Arveyron and Glacier des Bois 1802

Above: The Glacier des Bois and the Source of the Arveyron Ice Cave - watercolour sketch by J M W Turner in 1802. The Ice Cave interior is on the left in black.

Above: The Glacier des Bois and the Source of the Arveyron ice cave - watercolour by Jean-Antoine Linck - probably painted during the early 1800s. Image public domain courtesy of The Swiss National Library call number: GS-GUGE-LINCK-A-2

Photograph above by John Lumby 20150131-3611 pubic domain.
Painting held in trust by Tate Britain ref: D04613

Above: This view of the Arveyron Valley is from the north side of the Chamonix Valley. As we see from the 19th century views, this valley was once entirely filled by the Glacier des Bois. Marked in red is Prue Bishop's viewpoint for her Sculptural Watercolour painting at the top of this page.

Above: Prue Bishop is inspecting an ice cave that once marked the termination of a glacier. Above the cave we see deep scratch marks made by rocks that were once dragged along by the ever-moving glacier. Today, all the ice has gone, including now the ice cave.


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