The view appears to have been made near Seedorf, looking eastwards along the length of the lake, and showing the sharp outline of the mountains on the left at Isleten, and beyond that, rising above the lake on the right hand side of the composition, the distinctive outline of the Schwyz and the Mythen can be seen. Rtli, just beyond Isleten further to the east, is where the Swiss Confederation was formed in 1291, while the chapel dedicated to William Tell is opposite on the southern shore.
The information on the provenance of this watercolour comes from the labels attached to the reverse of the frame. A further label is inscribed with a reference to the 'watercolour of the same subject' by Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1934, no. 902; this was Turner's Brunnen, Lake Lucerne, now in a private collection (A. Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg and London, 1979, p. 483, no. 1527, illustrated, for a colour illustration see also Agnew's, Turner Watercolours, 28 February-25 March 1994, no. 9, ex.cat to mark Evelyn Joll's retirement). The view, though similar, is not however precisely the same, nor does our watercolour seem to be an exact copy of any of Turner's views of Lake Lucerne or its subsidiary, Lake Uri, on which Brunnen is situated. It is however close to two of Turner's 'sample' studies which Ruskin would have known from his work on the Turner Bequest (Tate Gallery, CCCLXIV - 338 and 354, the latter illustrated, I. Warrell, Through Switzerland with Turner: Ruskin's First Selection from the Turner Bequest, exhibition catalogue, London, Tate Gallery, 1995, p. 73, no. 33). Of the second of these, entitled by Ruskin 'Lake Lucerne: The Bay of Uri from above Brunnen: Sample Study', Ruskin wrote, 'The delicate, light, and sharply drawn clouds of this sketch are particularly beautiful' (E.T. Cook and A. Wedderburn, The Works of John Ruskin, 1903-12, vol. XIII, p. 204) and Ruskin, who paid several visits to Lake Lucerne, was presumably trying to emulate Turner's example in this watercolour.