The painting was ordered by prominent citizens around Johann Caspar Lavater for the city hall and begun during Füssli's last visit to Zurich on the return journey from Rome to London in the winter of 1778/79. The designation was added by another hand. The painting is strangely incomprehensible in the city records and does not seem to have been conceived for a specific location. Since 1989 it has been replaced in the narrow stairwell by a copy by Paul Pfister.
It depicts the foundation of the Swiss Confederation by the legendary oath of three men from Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. Preliminary drawings in the Graphic Art Collection (Gert Schiff: Johann Heinrich Füssli 1741-1825, 2 vols. (Zurich et al. 1973; = Oeuvrekataloge Schweizer Künstler 1), no. 412) and in Weimar (Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen; Gert Schiff: Johann Heinrich Füssli 1741-1825, 2 vols. (Zurich et al. 1973; = Oeuvrekataloge Schweizer Künstler 1), no. 411). One oil study has been rediscovered more recently (The Art Institute of Chicago, inv. 1980.170, see Frederick N. Bohrer: Public virtue and private terror: A two-sided oil sketch by Henry Fuseli (Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 53, 1990/1)).
Engraved by Franz Hegi: 'Der Schweizerbund', 1807-1809 (see David H. Weinglass: Prints and engraved Illustrations by and after Henry Fuseli. A catalogue raisonné (Aldershot 1994), no. 282).