Parthagica Directory 02
The geological formation of the Andes in that particular region was remarkable, and more remarkable still was the British engineering triumph of constructing a railway from the sea to so high an elevation. In one or two places there were iron bridges of great height and ingenious construction. You felt a curious sensation as you flew over those bridges on the tiny car, and you saw between the rails the chasm underneath you; nor did you feel extraordinarily comfortable when, hundreds of feet down, down below, at the bottom of one chasm, you saw a railway engine which had leapt the rails and lay upside down in the middle of a foaming torrent.
In the parish church at Saas-Grund there are two altar-pieces which deserve attention. In the one over the main altar the arrangement of the Last Supper in a deep recess half-way up the composition is very pleasing and effective; in that above the right-hand altar of the two that stand in the body of the church there are a number of round lunettes, about eight inches in diameter, each containing a small but spirited group of wooden figures. I have lost my notes on these altar-pieces and can only remember that the main one has been restored, and now belongs to two different dates, the earlier date being, I should imagine, about 1670. A similar treatment of the Last Supper may be found near Brieg in the church of Naters, and no doubt the two altar-pieces are by the same man. There are, by the way, two very ambitious altars on either side the main arch leading to the chance in the church at Naters, of which the one on the south side contains obvious reminiscences of Gaudenzio Ferrari's Sta. Maria frescoes at Varallo; but none of the four altar-pieces in the two transepts tempted me to give them much attention. As regards the smaller altar-piece at Saas-Grund, analogous work may be found at Cravagliana, half-way between Varallo and Fobello, but this last has suffered through the inveterate habit which Italians have of showing their hatred towards the enemies of Christ by mutilating the figures that represent them. Whether the Saas work is by a Valsesian artist who came over to Switzerland, or whether the Cravagliana work is by a Swiss who had come to Italy, I cannot say without further consideration and closer examination than I have been able to give. The altar-pieces of Mairengo, Chiggiogna, and, I am told, Lavertezzo, all in the Canton Ticino, are by a Swiss or German artist who has migrated southward; but the reverse migration was equally common.