Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TORRENT SCENES



Throughout the nineteenth century, many great artists were attracted to the mountains and valleys of Switzerland. One of the most important was Alexandre Calame (May 28, 1810 – March 19, 1864). Calame's paintings of the Swiss landscape are remarkably naturalistic depictions of lakes, high peaks, and rushing waterfalls, but at the same time, he considered them meditations on the theme of nature and the divine.
(clarkart.edu)
Painted with dramatic effects of light and atmosphere, these paintings were based on sharply observed details taken from close natural study and depict recognizable locations. Calame visited France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and England, making outdoor oil sketches from which he then created finished paintings in his studio.
(Alberto de Andrés at yalepress.yale.edu)


Mountainous Riverscape
Oil on paper laid down on canvas
Private collection
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


Oak Trees
Oil on canvas
Private collection
FRom ARC



A Farm House On The Side Of A Mountain
Oil on paper mounted on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


L'Eboulement
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Alexandre Calame was the son of a skillful marble worker in Vevey, but because his father lost the family fortune, Calame could not concentrate on art, but rather he was forced to work in a bank from the age of 15. When his father fell from a building and then died, it was up to the young Calame to provide for his mother.
In his spare time he began to practice drawing small views of Switzerland. In 1829 he met his patron, the banker Diodati, who made it possible for him to study under landscape painter François Diday. After a few months he decided to devote himself full to art.
In 1835 he began exhibiting his Swiss-Alps and forest paintings in Paris and Berlin. He became quite well known, especially in Germany, although he was more a drawer than an illustrator.
(en.wikipedia.org)


Swiss Landscape, 1830
Picture taken at: National Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C., USA
From en.wikipedia.org


Mountainous Landscape with a Torrent
Oil on canvas, 1840
Private collection
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


In 1842 he went to Paris and displayed his works Mont Blanc, the Jungfrau, the Brienzersee, the Monte Rosa and Mont Cervin.
He went to Italy in 1844 and brought back from Rome and Naples countless paintings, among them one of the ruins of Paestum (in the city museum in Leipzig). He showed that he was capable of understanding Italian nature; but the Alps remained his speciality.
(en.wikipedia.org)


Blick auf den Urnersee
Source Von Anker bis Zünd
Die Kunst im jungen Bundesstaat
Kunsthaus Zürich, 1998
uploaded by Adrian Michael
From en.wikipedia.org


Der Vierwaldstättersee, 1849
Source Von Anker bis Zünd
Die Kunst im jungen Bundesstaat
Kunsthaus Zürich, 1998
uploaded by Adrian Michael
From en.wikipedia.org


He enjoyed his first international success at the Paris Salon exhibition of 1839, but his style matured in the 1850s, when he began producing drawings and painted studies while hiking around Lake Lucerne. Calame's finished works often use elements from these studies, combined in a variety of different compositions. His paintings explore his belief in a divine presence in the rugged open spaces of his native country. But they are also celebrations of the archetypal Swiss landscape, painted with an eye toward the burgeoning tourist market. During his lifetime, distinguished patrons such as the king of France and members of the Russian imperial family collected his finished studio paintings. Today, his studies from nature are also popular; these freshly painted sketches demonstrate his skill as a painter of the natural world.
(clarkart.edu)


Landschaftsstudie
Oil on canvas, 1851
Private collection
From ARC


Der Vierwaldstättersee, 1851
Source Von Anker bis Zünd
Die Kunst im jungen Bundesstaat
Kunsthaus Zürich, 1998
uploaded by Adrian Michael
From en.wikipedia.org


Torrent De Montagne
Oil on canvas, 1853
Private collection
FRom ARC


The Jungfrau, Switzerland
Oil on canvas, 1853-1855
From art.thewalters.org


Der Vierwaldstättersee, 1855
Source Von Anker bis Zünd
Die Kunst im jungen Bundesstaat
Kunsthaus Zürich, 1998
uploaded by Adrian Michael
From en.wikipedia.org


Landscape with Oaks
Oil on canvas, 1859
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu



Many of Calame's paintings parallel the earliest phases of American landscape painting formed by the Hudson River School. American landscape artists like Thomas Cole (1801-1858) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) traveled to meet the circle of European artists and teachers that included Calame. There are signiificant contrasts with the Hudson River School's inspirations, which included the Berkshires. In New England the air is thicker with humidity, the mountains smoother and lower. The Swiss Horror is much more tempestuous, laden with sharp-edged boulders, stunted krummholz and flash-flooded streams. Calame's series of Torrent paintings focus precisely on the characteristic dangers of the Alps. One gets the sense that any impromptu yodeling would be drowned out by howling winds.
Calame's paintings also show a variety of departures away from earlier Academy painting methods. You might choose to pay special attention to Calame's brushwork, radical scrapings, and textures; how they careen thickly rather than always smoothly. For a contrast with Academic smoothness, you might compare Calame's brushwork with paintings by Louis-Leopold Boilly, (1761-1845), or Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904), both in the Clark's permanent collection.
There is a fierce integrity to Calame's paintings, a breadth of color and depth of visual investigation that is all too missing in most contemporary landscape painting, which is more usually a simplistic plein aire study made on a nice sunny day. Calame's Torrent paintings show us impossibilities, memories of events we can know but that can never be painted from life; dark storms careening across mountains, shafts of light held motionless, animated floods, windswept and swooning evergreens. You'd be swept away in the flood or blown off the mountain in the wind. You'd get frostbite if you stood still too long painting The Mythen. These paintings aren't even just one scene. They are many studies combined and composed to create a new vision. Calame's recombination do much more than merely mimic the world, they create a subtle fantasy that gives justice to the more extreme qualities of the Alps.
(Alpine Views: Alexandre Calame and the Swiss Landscape by Gregory Scheckler Oct 23, 2006, at berkshirefinearts.com)


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