Lakeside with Terraced Villa
Lakeside with Terraced Villa Drawing

Pen and ink, approx. ? × ? cm (image only). The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “a lake‐side, with terraced gardens, hills behind” (Ruskin, Works, 2:364 n. 1). The image strongly suggests a view of Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore, facing the end of the island where the terraced gardens rise from the level of the lake. The drawing shows the vertical cypresses and statues decorating the terraces, and the horizontal arched wall extending to the right of the terraces. According to the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Illustrations), therefore, Ruskin intended this drawing for the proposed section entitled Domo dʼOssola, which he assigns an illustration of Isola Bella (for an explanation of the connection between these two destinations and of the Ruskins' visit to the gardens on Isola Bella, see entry for Domo dʼOssola in the Proposed Additional Contents).
According to Mary Richardson, while staying at Cadenabbia, the Ruskins visited a number of villas on Lake Como where they could have admired terraced gardens extending down to the lakeside, such as Villa Sommariva and Villa Melzi (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 43–45). In the drawing, the horizontal arched structure extending to the right of the terraces also suggests Villa Pliniana, which the Ruskins visited, and which is built directly on the water as this drawing indicates. The main building of that villa, left of the horizontal wall, is not terraced, however, but presents a sheer, multi–story wall extending vertically straight up from the lakeside. Ruskinʼs drawing may represent a fantasy villa, compounded of various memories and/or sketches made on the spot of villa architecture surrounding the Italian lakes. The drawing also appears to be influenced by J. M. W. Turnerʼs vignettes for the 1830 illustrated edition of Samuel Rogersʼs Italy, such as “A Villa, Moonlight” or “Lake of Como”. The former illustrates Rogersʼs poem, “The Feluca” (set near Genoa, on the seacoast, not on the lakes), and the latter illustrates the closing poem, “A Farewell” (composed at Susa, near Turin, according to a footnote hanging from the title). If the “farewell” is imagined to be written at Susa, the speaker would be departing Italy via the pass of Mont Cenis, which had served as the most popular and accessible route both entering and departing Italy thoughout the eighteenth century (Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, 27–30). In fact, Rogers entered Italy on his 1822–23 tour via the Simplon Pass, which then surpassed the Mont Cenis Pass in popularity owing to the convenience of Napoleonʼs carriage road, and he departed via the Brenner Pass into Austria. Moreover, despite placing the poem “Como” following the speakerʼs descent into Italy in the poem “The Alps”, Rogersʼs actual experience of the Italian lakes was confined to the shores of Lake Maggiore, from whence he traveled directly to Milan, and then went on to Verona, Padua, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples (The Italian Journal of Samuel Rogers, ed. Hale, 82–83, 161–63).