Bounivard's Dungeon in the Castle of Chillon

WAG 7627


Chillon Castle stands on Lake Geneva and has been a popular tourist site for over two centuries. Lord Byron's poem 'The Prisoner of Chillon' tells the story of Francois Bonivard, who was imprisoned in Chillon in the 14th century. Herdman has chosen to depict the dungeon where he was held, which Byron had visited and carved his name into a pillar there. Son of a corn merchant, Herdman was self taught and at the age of thirteen began sketching the fast-changing local scenes. He published many of his drawings in 'Pictorial relics of Ancient Liverpool', 1843, 1857 and 1878. He also exhibited views in France and Switzerland from mid 1830. His theories on curvilinear perspective were published in 'The Art Journal' 1849. Alderman William Bennett and Joseph Mayer were among his patrons, and large collections of his and his son's views are in the Liverpool City Library (some formerly Walker Art Gallery) and some with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.