Balstall Drawing
Balstall Drawing

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 entitled Ancient Fortress and Rocky peak. / Above the vale of Balstall, Jura" (Ruskin Library, Lancaster, RF 1140; reproduced in , 15). The location is Balsthal, in the canton of Solothurn. Of the two castles in the valley, this drawing apparently represents the Neu‐Falkenstein Castle, which had been burned in 1798 in the Helvetian Revolution. 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”. 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 B├óle [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 [1274–1304], who was broken on the wheel for his share in the murder of the [Habsburg] Emperor Albert [1255–1308], and was consoled in his agony by the presence and fortitude of his wife. The castle was destroyed by the men of Basle, because a waggon laden with saffron, belonging to their merchants, had been pillaged by the Lords of Falkenstein” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers in Switzerland, 9–10).