The Rosenlaui glacier is at the foot of two spectacular Alpine peaks. Brett hasn’t focused on the mountains but has placed rocks and pebbles in the foreground, offset by the blue and white folds of the glacier itself. He was influenced by critic John Ruskin’s sentiment that a small stone was ‘a mountain in miniature’. Brett had travelled to Switzerland after reading Ruskin’s Of Mountain Beauty
and met the artist John William Inchbold who also influenced him to ‘paint all I could see’.
Glacier of Rosenlaui
44.5 x 41.9 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 44.5 x 41.9 cm
Born in Surrey, at age 20 Brett took art lessons with John Duffield Harding then attended the Royal Academy School. Heavily influenced by Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites, he adopted Holman Hunt’s ideal of scientific landscape painting and produced images of minute and brilliant detail. Ruskin was impressed and encouraged Brett to infuse his work with moral and religious themes. This caused Brett to lose his popularity and his later works were predominantly seascapes overworked with repetitive detail, meaning he died virtually unknown.