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Ill health and the outbreak of civil war in Switzerland kept Turner from returning to the Alps after 1844. In 1848, John Ruskin prevailed upon the 73-year-old artist to produce one final set of Swiss views, including Oberhofen.
Turner’s unrivaled manner of suggesting without actually painting the snowy screen of the Bernese Alps in the distance, the calm and far-reaching surface of Lake Thun and the company of green-uniformed soldiers at the left did not appeal to the Victorian audience’s love of descriptive detail. Many, including Ruskin, thought Turner’s “vague” paintings of the 1840s were signs of mental and physical collapse.