I came across this charming postcard on the Goethezeit-Portal website. The date on the card would seem to refer to a visit by Goethe on the island of Schwanau on July 17, 1775. The visit would have occurred on his return from the so-called first Swiss journey, which Goethe undertook from Frankfurt with the Stolberg brothers in May of 1775. Goethe was supposedly fleeing from the pressure of his amorous entanglement with Lili Schönemann. The poem "Auf dem See," recording an outing on Lake Zurich, recalls this relationship. (Here a translation by the singer Tomoko Yamamoto.) While in Zurich he stayed with Lavater, who introduced him to some of the local eminences, including the now aged Bodmer. Though Goethe had dreamed for years of making a journey to Italy, he went only as far as the Gotthard Pass, which he reached on June 23.
I have looked through all of my reference books and can find no indication that Goethe was actually on Schwanau, a small island in Lake Lauerz. There is today an inn on the island that has a "Goethe-Stube" that can accommodate (according to the inn's website) 30 guests. As can be seen in the photo above, the room, with its windows and ceiling, looks just like the one in the postcard.
Goethe's visits to even the most obscure locations are pretty well documented. For instance, a year earlier, in July 1774, Goethe made an excursion on the Rhine and the Lahn with Lavater and Basedow. According to the plaque picture on the postcard, Goethe and his companions left their ship and had a "Mittagsmahl" at the "Wirtshaus an der Lahn" near Coblenz.
It was already fashionable in the 18th century to travel in the footsteps of beloved authors. In 1791, for instance, Friederike Brun visited another Swiss island, the Isle of Saint-Pierre on Lake Biel. It was made famous by Rousseau, who described his idyll there in 1765 in the fifth promenade of Reveries of the Solitary Walker. Rousseau, when the lake was not calm for rowing, liked to find a charming, isolated nook, where he could dream undisturbed and where the view, he wrote, was limited only by the distant range of mountains. After enjoying lunch in the humble room in which Rousseau stayed, Brun, in a nice inversion, refers to the prospect outside the window, hemmed in by the peaks of glaciers: "The view is limited, but vast for the imagination." The title of one of her poems gives an idea of her sentimental itinerary: "Die Insel auf dem Bielersee (An Rousseaus Schatten)."
So, the visit to Schwanau remains mysterious. Maybe someone reading this has information on the visit there?