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Sculptural Watercolour®  l'Aquarelle sculpturale

 

Chillon Castle Dungeon, Lac Léman, Switzerland

Chillon Castle Dungeon, Lac Léman, Switzerland

Sculptural Watercolour® 70 x 50 x 8 cm

Chillon Castle is at the eastern end of Lake Geneva and is probably Switzerland's No. 1 tourist attraction. Nevertheless, it is large enough to absorb the crowds and is well worth seeing.

2016 marked the 200th anniversary of Lord Byron's visit there that led extremely quickly to his poetic myth called The Prisoner of Chillon.

The painting draws together the essential elements of the dungeon where François Bonivard, the central character in the myth, was chained for 6 years from 1530.

 

The painting focuses on these words from Lord Byron's The Prisoner of Chillon:

In June 1816 - the 'year without a summer' caused by April's catastrophic eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia - Lord Byron and his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley visited the Château de Chillon: an especially imposing castle set on a small rocky island on the shore of 'Lac Léman' (Lake Geneva) near Montreux in Switzerland.

Whilst showing his honorable guests around the entire castle, the warden regailed them with its history, including that of François Bonivard, a Geneva larger-than-life patriot and political activist who had been imprisoned in a dungeon there for 6 years from 1530.

Lord Byron was so inspired by this account that he immediately wrote a greatly embellished version entitled The Prisoner of Chillon. Not only was this poetic fable a great success, but more generally it wove Lac Léman/Lake Geneva and the earlier extremely successful romantic tale 'La Nouvelle Héloïse by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (pub 1761) into the fabric of the Romantic Movement.

The Canton Vaud authorities that owned the castle were apparantly very slow to capitalise on this interest, but nowadays this is Switzerland's No 1 tourist attraction, and indeed very well worth a visit. It is so large that one may easily spend several interesting hours there not only looking at the many rooms and exhibits but also looking out on the various views.

In the summer, you may extend the romantic spirit of Chillon by coming and going on one of the early 20th century paddle-steamers.

 

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