Inchbold, a Yorkshireman, was the son of the editor and co-owner of the Leeds Intelligencer. His early Pre-Raphaelite pictures were admired by Ruskin, who took him under his wing, but the famous critic rather browbeat him in the 1850s as his watercolours became more poetic and less objective.
Inchbold published a book of sonnets called Annus Amoris in 1876, and took to travelling. Late in his life, in 1879, he gave his address to the RA at Montreux in Switzerland, and this watercolour was painted close by, at Vouvry, in the canton of Valais, south of Lake Leman. His delicate watercolours had become distinctively blue, yellow and green, presumably to suit the Swiss valleys in spring. He held an exhibition at the Leeds Philosophical Society in 1887, the year before he died: ‘Mr J.W. Inchbold is well represented by a selection of drawings ranging in their subjects from Naples, the Riviera, and Switzerland ... and happily illustrating the artist’s poetic fidelity to Nature’ (Leeds Mercury, 7 December 1887, p 8).
Christopher Newall wrote in the catalogue to the Inchbold exhibition at Leeds City Art galleries in 1993: ‘Even more subtle [than the oils] in their ethereal and atmospheric qualities are the watercolours that Inchbold painted which show the vast panorama of mountains and lakes. Washes of thin colour are applied to broad areas, fused together and overlapping while still wet on the sheet, to give a constant variety of effect and a sense of luminosity ... Similarly, in his upland landscapes in watercolour, the artist built the volume and structure of the rock and trees and vegetation by placing loose patches of translucent colour across the surface’ (p 23).