The painter Robert Gardelle finishes his training in Paris in the studio of Nicolas de Largillière and returns to Geneva in 1712 to specialize in portraiture, painting many of the well-known personalities of the time, such as the politician Pierre Fatio or the scientist Jean-Louis Calandrini. The sitter of the current portrait, Jacques-Barthélemy Micheli du Crest, a direct ancestor the Micheli family at Château du Crest, was a multi-talented ‘homme des lumières’. He began his career in the military as captain and military engineer in the French army, going on to enter politics becoming a member of the Conseil des Deux Cents in Geneva. A physicist, an architect and specialist in fortifications and urbanization, he published much of his research, notably concerning the measurement of temperature. However, his open criticism of the defenses of the city of Geneva and the aristocratic regime and his refusal to apologize publicly, meant that all his property was confiscated and he finished his life in captivity in the castle of Aarbourg, from where he drew the first scientific panorama of the alps in 1755.
When Jean-Louis Micheli brought home for Christmas 1946 a “Bois de Jussy” by the painter Alexandre Calame, his young son, Yves Micheli (barely 10 years old), could not yet imagine the impact that this work, which so fascinated him, would have. Over time, this picture inspired Yves Micheli to build a collection of works by Geneva artists. His passion for art led him, some sixty years later, to create a space to display more than a hundred paintings and sculptures: the Collection du Crest. The collection contains works from renowned painters such as Jean-Etienne Liotard, Jacques-Laurent Agasse, James Pradier or Ferdinand Hodler and also works from lesser-known, but nonetheless deserving artists. The common denominator of all these different artists is that they have all contributed to the development of art in Geneva and Switzerland and in some cases even internationally. Each of them has a special relationship with the city of Calvin, whether they were born, studied or spent a significant part of their career there. There exist many links between these artists, both professional and through family ties. Barthélemy Menn, a teacher at the Beaux-Arts for more than half a century, taught many of them, including Auguste Baud-Bovy and Ferdinand Hodler.
Presented chronologically, the collection traces the history of art in Geneva from the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century and its subject matter, for the main part, consists of views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Views of Lake Geneva - the most numerous – stand alongside scenes of the Valais. The collection also includes a group of figures and nudes, still lifes and some historical subjects.
The Collection du Crest offers a unique opportunity to see the only group of works open to the public which retraces the evolution of the Geneva school over three centuries; its mission is to allow viewers to discover or rediscover this unique Genevan heritage. Located in the grounds of Château du Crest, home to the Micheli family since the 17th century, the collection incorporates the family tradition of passing on family patrimony. Jacques Micheli, grandson of Francesco who arrived from Lucca in Tuscany in 1555, acquired the Château du Crest in 1637 and the property has been passed down from generation to generation until Yves Micheli, who created the Micheli-du-Crest Foundation in 1995, with the aim of perpetuating this family heritage within the listed building.
Collection du Crest
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Toepffer began his artistic career as an illustrator and caricature was to remain an important element of his output. After three years studying engraving and watercolour in Paris, he returns to Geneva and accompanies Pierre-Louis De la Rive travelling around Lake Geneva making pleine air studies from nature. Inspired by Dutch 17th Century painters such as David Teniers and French contemporaries such as Nicolas-AntoineTaunay, Toepffer came to specialize in small genre scenes capturing local Genevan customs as well as more ambitious compositions such as the present work, which shows the Promenade de la Treille above the Parc des Bastions densely populated by the varied members of society, from the shoe-shiner to the young soldiers in uniform and elegantly dressed citizens enjoying a walk in the afternoon light. The Promenade de la Treille’s name comes from the trellises which lined the walls of the nearby private gardens of rue de l’Hôtel de Ville.
Agasse begins his career in his home town of Geneva sometimes collaborating with local artists, also represented in the Collection, such as Wolfgang Adam Toepffer and Firmin Massot, but he spent most of his life in England and it is to the English period that the current work belongs. Agasse met the man who was to become his main patron, the enthusiastic horse-breeder George Pitt, future Lord Rivers, in Geneva and in 1800 with his encouragement left for England where the artist would spend the rest of his career as a fashionable painter of horses and dogs for the English gentry. The identity of the lady in this picture remains a mystery. She has been identified as Emma Powles, a fellow Swiss living in England and as Mademoiselle Cazenove, possibly a cousin of the artist, but since in the entries for 1835 and 1842 in the manuscript catalogue of his works the painter only refers to the sitter as ‘the lady on horseback’, it remains an open question. This was a popular composition for Agasse as at least three versions are known, the earliest of 1808 being in larger half-length format.
Agasse’s reputation rests largely on his capacity to portray animals not only with great anatomical precision, but also to capture their characters in what can be seen as actual animal portraits. When Agasse was continuing his training as a draughtsman in Paris in the studio of Jacques-Louis David, he was also taking courses in anatomy and dissection at the Musée d’histoire naturelle. The foxhounds portrayed here belonged to George Lane Fox (1793-1848), a nephew of Lord Rivers, the artist’s most important patron. Agasse went to the Lane Fox estate Bramham Park in Yorkshire to visit the kennels and this picture dates to 1837 whereas another, portraying only four hounds from the same kennels, was painted a year earlier. The sheer scale of the composition together with the central hound’s serious and compelling expression give this work an impressive sense of monumentality and grandeur. All the various attitudes of the dogs are brilliantly captured; a moment of tension between two rivals, tiredness, curiosity, nobility and elegance.
Firmin Massot is only eleven years old when he entered art school in Geneva; he subsequently followed life drawing classes with Jean-Etienne Liotard at the Société des Arts. From 1787-1788 the artist travelled to Italy but had returned to Switzerland by 1789 when he first exhibited at the Geneva Salon. From the start Massot specialized in portraiture and collaborated with his contemporaries, also present in the Collection du Crest, the landscape painter Wolfgang-Adam Toepffer and the animal painter Jacques-Laurent Agasse. Massot was well appreciated by the local Genevan nobility and bourgeoisie who ordered small and medium scale portraits and he also received commissions from prestigious patrons abroad such as Madame Récamier and the Empress Josephine. The current work is similar in size and composition to Massot’s Portrait of Ariane De la Rive, future Madame Philippe Revilliod in the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva painted a year earlier in 1809. Both works show the female sitter elegantly attired in an Empire style dress seated at the foot of a carefully rendered tree in a landscape setting. The natural style of English portrait was currently highly fashionable throughout Europe and its influence can be seen here. Nature is unfettered; small branches and stones are scattered on the pathway, a branch from a bush on the left leans forward in front of the harp and a tall red flower with expressive leaves and berries to the right echo the crimson of the paisley shawl. The identity of the present sitter has yet to be confirmed.
Joseph, Archduke of Austria (1741-1790) was the fourth child and first son of the Emperor Franz Stephan and Empress Maria-Theresia. He succeeded his father as Emperor Joseph II in 1765. With his parents, he is one of the rare sitters to have been portrayed by Liotard three times; in 1744 aged four, the current work from 1762 when he was twenty-one years old and again in 1778 during Liotard’s third visit to Vienna. The fact that the Joseph II came to visit Liotard was passing through Geneva on 14th July 1777 attests to the strong ties between the artist and the imperial family. The fresh-faced Archduke is shown in a brilliant pale blue jacket with shimmering embroidery and the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The crimson ribbon and black bow provide a lively contrast to the paler colours of the rest of his costume. In his right hand he holds a fortification plan which is voluntarily sketchy and is a reference to the young prince’s military training. Liotard created two pastels of this composition simultaneously. The other version, with minimal differences, is in the collection of Prince Karl zu Schwarzenberg in Vienna. The Vienna sheet does not have the lightly indicated window in the left background which Liotard seems to have added to fill the space.
The twin brother of Jean-Etienne Liotard, much less is known about his career, but he was active mainly as an engraver and draughtsman and his style resembles that of his better-known brother. The current work, Jean-Michel’s only known pastel, is a copy of a painting by the earlier French artist Jean-Baptiste Santerre (1651-1717) of which numerous versions exist, as well as a print by Claude Bricart. Jean-Michel Liotard also executed a drawing of this composition, signed and dated 1762 (whereabouts unknown).
De la Rive gave up legal studies in order to study painting. He was largely self-taught studying Dutch master paintings from the collections of Jean-Jacques Sellon and François Tronchin and went to Italy in 1786 for a year and a half making copies and plein air sketches with fellow Swiss artists Jean-Pierre Saint Ours and Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros. In the present work, the depiction of the animals and the way they are placed in the landscape show the influence of the earlier Dutch painters he copied such as Philips Wouwermans and Nicolas Berchem. The composition is typical of De la Rive’s ‘composed landscapes’ which combine realistic elements of sketches made in the area around Lake Geneva with idealized elements bathed in an Italianizing southern light which he had observed in the works of Claude Lorrain.
Calame travelled to Holland in 1838 to study the work of the 17th Century Dutch landscape painters notably Meindert Hobbema and Jacob van Ruisdael. The influence of these artists is especially apparent in the current work and in the smaller but exquisitely rendered Sous l’orage hung opposite. Calame reinterpreted the Dutch masters’ detailed and majestic representation of nature as well as the way they used dramatic contrasts of light and dark to atmospheric effect.
Alexandre Calame studied with François Diday for three years but quickly became an independent artist in demand across Europe. It was Orage à la Handeck (Musée d’art et d’histoire, Genève), a larger work very similar in composition to the present picture, which won a gold medal at the Salon in Paris for the artist in 1839 and established his name as the champion of a national Swiss school of painting specializing in dramatic and romantic views of the alps. With the dramatically lit sky, the rushing waters of the mountain torrent and the pine trees bent by the force of the storm, Calame portrays an all-powerful and unhospitable nature in which man is absent.
Diday studied first with Wolfgang-Adam Toepffer in Geneva and then with Antoine Gros in Paris. After a short trip to Italy, he returned to Geneva and specialized in mountain and lake views. This landscape shows the influence of his most famous pupil, Alexandre Calame, who was only eight years younger than him. However, whereas Calame, in a Romantic vein, often made the landscape the central subject of the his works, Diday’s work is anchored in a more traditional approach where man is always present; in the current work in the form of the central windswept figures and dogs. Diday uses repeated slanting accents in the composition; the leaning cross, the driving rain and the blasted oak trunk, in order to conjure up the overwhelming power of nature.
Trained initially by his father Jean-Léonard and later by Alexandre Calame, Lugardon studied in both Paris and Lyon, where he attended veterinary school in 1849. During his training he studied the different movements of animals; he was a keen photographer and used photography to help him with his observation of animals. He then used his photographs to help render faithfully the postures of cattle in his landscapes. Lugardon eventually progressed from animal painting to concentrate on alpine views, which were very much in demand at the various Geneva and international salons where he exhibited. A member of the Geneva Fine Arts Commission and the Swiss Alpine Club, Lugardon regularly visited the Valais, the Bernese Oberland and the Grisons, where he enjoyed exploring countryside still untouched by urban development.
Close to Ingres and Corot, Menn was an excellent teacher and the master of a whole young generation of artists, who he taught at the Geneva School of Fine Arts, where he was director. Menn trained Auguste Baud-Bovy, Albert Trachsel, Édouard Vallet, and above all Ferdinand Hodler, his most well-known pupil. Corot said of him that he was "the master of us all". He was also responsible for the organisation of important exhibitions in Geneva devoted to Corot, Delacroix, Courbet and Daubigny. A romance seems to be developing between the young boy and girl, who the painter places in a large landscape at the foot of the Petit Salève, the mountain which can be seen to the right of the composition. In the background, Menn incorporates a bullfight which is attracting their attention. The figures are depicted in the troubadour style of painting which was characteristic of Ingres and reached its peak under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Ernest Meissonier, the main representatives of French academic painting. This work probably dates from the first half of the 19th century, when Menn was still fully immersed in what he had learned in Paris.
A painter of intimate landscapes, Gaud devoted himself to painting the surroundings of Geneva and the banks of Lake Geneva. He produced bucolic works featuring young people in the Rousseauist spirit of the 18th century. The vegetable garden, which two figures are busy cultivating, has a wide view of the lake and the Jura beyond and seems to show the village of Hermance side, echoing another view of this village also in the collection. A student of Barthélemy Menn, Gaud took part in the decoration of the Salle des Chevaliers at the Château de Gruyères which was coordinated by Menn and where many other artists, such as Corot, the Leleux, Auguste Beaud-Bovy and François Furet, also collaborated. In 1902 Gaud succeeded Menn as director of the Geneva École des Beaux-Arts. Gaud was also responsible for the decorative panels of the staircase at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva and for the decoration of the town hall in Plainpalais.
Ravel completed an apprenticeship as a decorator of watches and set up his own enameling workshop. He then enrolled at the Geneva School of Fine Arts, where he studied under Menn and Jacques Alfred van Muyden. An enthusiastic landscape painter, Ravel painted outdoors and travelled widely in Switzerland and France before discovering the Valais in 1884. From then on, he toured the canton, both as a painter and as a mountaineer. He showed a great interest in nature, studying local costumes and traditions like many other artists such as Édouard Vallet or Ernest Biéler. However, his style differs greatly from that of the painters of the phenomenon later known as the Savièse School, with whom he seems to have had little contact. Ravel stayed in Évolène and explored the Val d'Anniviers and the Val d'Hérens in search of picturesque views. The model represented here is undoubtedly Marie Lancet, one of his students, whom he later married and who often appears in his compositions, particularly those set in the Valais. The artist is also known as the uncle of Maurice Ravel, composer of the famous Bolero.
Auguste Baud-Bovy was a pupil of Barthélemy Menn and taught alongside his former master for ten years at the art school at Geneva. A talented portraitist, it was however the Swiss landscape and in particular mountains which really preoccupied him from 1885, causing his friend Puvis de Chavannes to describe him as ‘le chantre de la montagne’. In 1888 he decided to leave Paris, where he was well established and part of contemporary Symbolist artistic circles, in order to escape city life and move with his family to a chalet in Aeschi in the Berner Oberland. This landscape is one of a pair with La montagne dans les nuées (Gottfried Keller Foundation), which was commissioned by Georges and Blanche Blum for their apartment in Geneva. While remaining faithful to nature, Baud-Bovy manages to give the work a mystical dimension. The paint surface is extremely thin and yet with almost transparent layers of colour the painter manages to convey the mountain light, the surface of the rock and the wisps of rising clouds.
François Furet stayed often at the Château de Gruyères in the 1860s. At the time, the castle belonged to the Bovy family, who invited a whole community of artists there in the summer. Together with the painter Henri Baron, Furet worked on the decoration of the salon, begun by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Barthélemy Menn, and filled some of the empty spaces with paintings of animals or various floral decoration. The small community of artists would also go to paint en plein air in the surrounding countryside and they subsequently organised small exhibitions of their work at the château. The current picture, a night view of the church in the small county town, is probably one of these works.
James Pradier was born in Geneva to a French Hugenot family and left his hometown aged eighteen to continue his studies in Paris. He won the Prix de Rome which allowed him to study at the Villa Medici from 1814-18 together with other promising sculptors such as David d’Angers. Back in Paris he began exhibiting at the Salon and soon became a successful artist with numerous public and private commissions. His work combines an elegant neoclassicism together with a keenly observed sensuality. Amongst his most well-known works are the four low reliefs of Fame on the Arc de Triomphe (1829-34) and Monument to Rousseau in bronze in Geneva (1835). He returned to Rome three times later in his career in the hope of establishing a second studio and worked for prestigious patrons there such as the Prince Demidov. The original life-size version of Odalisque was carved by Pradier in marble and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1841; it was bought by the French state and is now in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Lyon. Like numerous other 19th Century artists and writers Pradier was interested in oriental subjects at a time when it was fashionable to travel to exotic destinations. He edited Odalisque in bronze in two sizes during his lifetime; the current example being the larger format. The details of the roses in her hair and the feather fan at her feet are carefully rendered and the artist has brilliantly captured the very moment the young woman is looking up as someone/the viewer intrudes into her space.
Lugardon is known for his paintings of events in Swiss history, such as the current picture. Heinrich von Melchtal has refused to submit to the bailiff of Unterwalden; a soldier who has come to confiscate the farmer’s oxen stands in the centre of the composition between the working animals and the farmer's family. The farmer’s son, Arnold of Melchtal, raises a mace above his head, determined to do battle with the soldier. A valiant figure in Swiss mythology, Arnold of Melchtal is one of the legendary founders of the Swiss Confederation, along with Walter Fürst from Uri and Werner Stauffacher from Schwyz. A larger version of this composition by Lugardon is in the collections of the Musée d'art et d'histoire in Geneva. One of the leading figures of the Geneva Romantic School, alongside Calame and Diday, Lugardon's career took him between Geneva and Paris, where King Louis-Philippe commissioned him to paint at Versailles. A member of the Société des Arts and the Institut national genevois, he was also director of the École de la Figure at the Écoles de Dessin, where his pupils included Barthélemy Menn.
This study was made in preparation for a large panorama depicting an episode of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871: it shows the defeat of the Bourbaki army in January 1871 and its internment in Switzerland, where it had sought refuge. The scene also highlights one of the first large-scale humanitarian actions undertaken by the Red Cross, which had been founded eight years earlier. This is one of the many preparatory works by Édouard Castres, which he produced after several years of study and documentation. Twelve young painters assisted him for five months in the creation of this monumental canvas which was fourteen meters high. Today the panorama can now be seen in Lucerne.
Hainard attended the Geneva School of Fine Arts and the School of Industrial Arts from 1921-1926. He studied sculpture, and then also took up engraving, inspired by the technique of Japanese prints. He made a name for himself as an animal painter and studied the fauna of the forests and mountains around him in great detail in order to render its features and colours as faithfully as possible. Spending hours observing foxes, hares or chamois in their natural environment, he studied the animals’ habits doing his utmost not to disturb them. The artist succeeds in capturing their movements with great fidelity and, whether in engraving or in sculpture, he manages to convey the impressions of the viewer in the field in front of the animal.
The present sheet is one of several preparatory drawings which Hodler made for a painted portrait of his close friend, the sculptor James Vibert (1872-1942), who Hodler with humour called “James the invincible from Carouge”. The painted version is in the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva. Following a period in Paris where he trained with Rodin, Vibert returned to his hometown of Geneva, where he practiced as a sculptor and teacher for the rest of his career. Hodler, who suffered from asthma, decided to accompany James Vibert, and his brother Félix, to Néris-les-Bains in Auvergne in the summer of 1915 in order to take the waters and this drawing dates from this stay. Hodler shows his friend in a three-quarters pose concentrating on his impressive beard and bushy eyebrows. Hodler also brilliantly captures Vibert’s powerful personality in the sitter’s penetrating frontal gaze. James Vibert’s work is represented in the collection with the bronze l’Ève Nouvelle, 1926.
This work is a preparatory study for Giron's large composition of a wrestling festival in the Hautes-Alpes, painted in 1905 and today hanging in the Grandhotel Giessbach on Lake Brienz. Aiming at showing the profound harmony between man and nature, the scene is part of the movement at the turn of the century which saw a return to nature and arcadian nostalgia characteristic of the painters of the Savièse School. The depiction of such Alpine subjects was intended to promote the image of an ideal Switzerland as well as fostering a strong national and patriotic feeling. Known for his large landscape in the National Council Chamber of the Government House in Bern, Giron's reputation is based mainly on his portraits of men and women, a genre in which he excelled. It is not surprising, therefore, that he accurately depicts the face of the young woman and the traditional costume she is wearing.
Hodler produced several landscapes of the countryside at the foot of the Salève in 1888. The composition is daring in the way it combines a close-up of the delicately coloured meadow flowers in the foreground with the limestone outcrops of the Salève beyond. The viewer encounters the flowers as if he himself at ground level lying in the grass. The way Hodler frames the composition, cutting off the bottom of the flowers’ stems, gives a heightened sense of immediacy. The pale pink and blue-violet scabius flowers are interspersed with grasses and the way they are painted impressionistic. Rather than limiting himself to a faithful representation of nature, Hodler wanted his landscapes to evoke emotions in the viewer. He said: “Painting can only represent sensations, and these must be strong and pure unadulterated, in order to be transmitted from the surface to the viewer through form and colour.” As a dedication in his hand on the reverse of the canvas attests, Hodler gave this picture to his sister-in-law Jeanne-Louise Jacques.
Perrier initially studied fashion and costume design but thanks to his school-friend, the critic Mathias Morhardt, he met the circle of Swiss artists in Paris, Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet, Carlos Schwabe and Félix Vallotton and decided to follow his true passion for painting. A gifted portraitist, it was landscape painting which would occupy him for most of his life and he returned incessantly to favourite sites, the Salève, the Mont Blanc from Praz de Lys in upper Savoy, Lake Geneva and the Grammont. However rather than painting from nature like his Genevan predecessors, Perrier prefers to take notes on colour and mood while walking and once back in the studio he transposes his impressions into dreamy and fluid compositions in which he was aiming to create a sublime and cosmic vision of landscape. He painted with short brushrokes, initially influenced by the pointillist style of George Seurat, but moving closer to the divisionism of Giovanni Segantini. From 1910 his style becomes increasingly abstract and paired down and the paint layer ever thinner. The current work shows us a vision of the Mont Blanc as it rises majestically above the rose-coloured atmosphere. The zones of brilliant contrasting colour are covered by a network of white lines which delineate the mountain relief. Everything superfluous has been extracted and the landscape is condensed to its essence.
Born into a modest family of craftsmen from the Grand Duchy of Baden, Ihly studied painting in Geneva and then in Paris. He lived in Florence for a while before returning to Geneva where he taught drawing from 1887 to 1901. He made a name for himself with the decoration of the pillars of the Palais des Beaux-Arts at the Swiss National Exhibition in 1896, and he painted several decorative panels for the Beau-Rivage Hotel in Geneva. Ihly's paintings are socially orientated and detail the rural exodus, poverty and the industrial boom at the turn of the century. Here he paints the transporters of stones from the quarries of Meillerie (France). Called ‘bacounis’ (from French-Provençal dialect) these boatmen - both Swiss and French - unload with wheelbarrows stones which have been extracted from the quarries. The heavy cargoes were transported to Geneva in specially built sailing boats, which could be also be pulled along towpaths. There were about a hundred active men in Meillerie and another two thousand in the quarries. The quarries are still in use today; although stone is no longer extracted, gravel is used for construction.
Of German origin, Hermès moved to Switzerland at a very early age and was fascinated by the landscapes of his adopted country. Settling in Geneva, he concentrated on painting the city and its surroundings, working both in the countryside and in the studio. Initially, he was close to Ferdinand Hodler, who had a profound effect on his early works. The banks of the Rhone at La Jonction offer a wonderful viewpoint of the cliffs of the district of Saint-Jean, which the artist used in numerous variations. In addition to easel paintings, he also created architectural decorations, ceramics and sculptures, testimony to his apprenticeship as a decorator in the early years of his arrival in Switzerland. He also made a name for himself as a graphic artist, frequently working for the Vevey-based company Säuberlin & Pfeiffer. In addition to Switzerland, where he lived (Geneva, Valais and the canton of Uri), Hermès frequently travelled to Paris and Spain, places which that had a major impact on his work.
Vallet trained at the School of Industrial Arts and the School of Fine Arts in Geneva. A reluctant pupil, he abandoned his studies a year before graduating, preferring to travel. After Germany, he visited Paris and the Louvre, and also went to Italy. In 1908, he discovered the Valais whose landscapes changed his perception of painting. After staying in Hérémence, he lived temporarily in Ayent. In 1911, he left for the village of Savièse, together with his wife, Marguerite Gilliard, daughter of the painter Eugène Gilliard and also an artist. The couple finally settled in Vercorin, where Vallet set up his studio. Vallet’s main inspiration came from the Valais, and much of his work is an attempt to render its landscapes and its inhabitants, their customs and activities with delicacy and poetry. This painting, also sometimes entitled "Butter merchants", depicts a scene from daily life at a market in Geneva. The lady on the left of the composition is the artist's maternal grandmother, Rosalie Bouvier. This painting was the subject of a caricature published in the Geneva satirical magazine Guguss' in the winter of 1897-98.
Initially influenced by Hodler, Blanchet discovered Cézanne's painting in 1907, during a stay in Paris. His modelling with colour was a revelation for him and he puts it into practice here making the light vibrate, and contrasting the warmer tones of the body with the green of the ribbon and the shadows. A skilful blend of curves and straight lines indicating movement, this canvas is like a frozen moment reminiscent of a film sequence that has a before and after. The pose of the model allows the different lines of her body and the nuances of the different colours of the flesh to be highlighted. The woman’s gesture and the long ribbon in front of her capture the sense of movement as she prepares to tie her hair. This large nude has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions, including the 1940 Venice Biennale.
Although he lived through the 20th century and worked alongside a large number of artists, Émile Chambon kept his distance from the major artistic movements of his time. A great admirer of Courbet and Vallotton, he never ceased to pay tribute to them and to defend figurative painting. Regularly exhibiting in Switzerland and France, he benefited from the support of personalities such as Louise de Vilmorin and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, who were close friends. Mythology is one of Chambon's favourite themes and he often included the gods and goddesses of Antiquity in his compositions. According to him, the myths offer an infinite number of variations without changing their essence because they are eternal and the same problems have been faced by men in all times. The artist is seduced by the Greek deities because they are in the image of man and share his defects, whether jealousy, lies or treachery. Like humans, they are both ideal and Machiavellian. Three of his favourite models appear here in the guise of the daughters of Bacchus and Venus, the Graces, a favourite subject for many artists.
After becoming a painter like his father Benjamin, a professor in Düsseldorf, Vautier studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich before going to Paris where he met Ernest Biéler, whom he accompanied to Evolène and Savièse in the Valais. There he met the Genevans Alfred Rehfous and John Pierre Simonet, who encouraged him to come and settle in Geneva, which he did in 1906. Together with Maurice Barraud and Eugène Martin, they founded the Falot group in 1915-1917, which was a reaction to the Hodlerian legacy. Aiming for a more modernist approach to painting, they can be compared with the post-impressionist movement. Women and sensual love occupy the essential part of Vautier's work. A painter above all of the intimate, he composed his scenes in the secret space of a room emphasizing the beauty and charm of his models. He paints their clothes with light brushstrokes giving the fabric and fur a shimmering effect. The artist uses mainly pink and blue, his favourite colour scheme, demonstrating his keen interest in eighteenth-century French painting.
Introduced to the world of painting through the works of Calame, Albert Gos attended the classes of Barthélemy Menn, of whom he was one of the " emulators ". A mountain enthusiast, he assiduously travelled the Swiss Alps, following Menn's precepts. He proclaimed: "The artist enjoys working in the open air, analysing the landscape and being able to express himself in complete freedom". Recognised as a master of Alpine painting, he established his reputation by painting numerous views of the Matterhorn. However, he also liked to set up his easel on the banks of Lake Geneva or in the orchards of Lavaux. This view of the turquoise waters of Lake Geneva, taken from the heights of Montreux, marks a transition between Gos's two favourite themes, the mountains and the lake. In the background, the Grammont rises majestically out of the mists emanating from the lake. In this autumnal view, the painter also plays on the warm/cold colours, contrasting the orange foliage in the foreground with the blue-green of the background
Inspired by Cézanne, this skilfully constructed still life depicts a stoneware pot, apples and a tea towel placed on the table which adds a lighter touch to the composition, emphasising the green and red of the fruit. Hermanjat had close ties with the French avant-garde and was among the first Swiss artists to be inspired by Paul Cézanne and the Fauvist painters. Trained in Geneva with Barthélemy Menn and Auguste Baud-Bovy, Hermanjat became known mainly for his Orientalist works. In 1886, he went to Algiers for the first time before making several other trips to the Maghreb. There he painted desert landscapes, scenes of daily life and portraits of locals. However, in 1896, he returned to Switzerland to settle permanently, abandoning oriental subjects, which were less popular with the public, who preferred Alpine views. Like many of his contemporaries, he then devoted himself to Swiss landscapes.
Coming from a modest background, Alice Bailly attended drawing classes at the École des demoiselles, which was adjacent to the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, at the time barred to women. She exhibited for the first time in 1900. After several stays in Valais between 1902 and 1904, she left Switzerland two years later to settle in Paris. In 1911, she met André Lhote and Raoul Dufy and expanded her circle of friends to include other artists such as Juan Gris and Albert Gleizes, all of whom were closely associated with Cubism. Her painting thus naturally evolved towards this trend, which led Guillaume Apollinaire to classify her as an Orphist. Close to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, she contributed to their influence in French-speaking Switzerland. The artist executed this painting the year before her return to Switzerland. This bouquet, whose flowers appear unstructured, is tinged with orphism, recalling the works of Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay. A highly colourful painting, it is a profusion of silver shapes and harmoniously arranged colours that are barely visible against the architectural background. Although it is not easy to distinguish the different kinds of flowers represented, the artist’s main concern is to create a harmony of coloured forms.
The composition of this still life clearly demonstrates Gampert's great love of the decorative arts. The various objects are skilfully juxtaposed, and their visual impact is reflected in the way they are arranged. The artist, who also produced numerous tapestry cartoons and wallpapers for the company Grandchamp, liked to incorporate richly patterned fabrics into his compositions, which allowed him to practice his decorative arts. After a short cubist period, encouraged by his French friend Roger de La Fresnaye, Gampert quickly returned to a more classical style. As a painter, draughtsman, engraver and illustrator, he created costumes and theatre sets, under the impetus of Maurice Denis, as well as frescoes, such as those on the apse of the church in Corsier (GE), between 1923 and 1924.
The present work is part of the Valaisan tradition of representing rural communities, but rather than depicting villagers at work or in prayer, as is often the case, it shows an impromptu gathering of singers in a chalet gathered around a fire, which is the only source of light in the composition.For this reason, the palette is deliberately dark, apart from the orange faces illuminated by the flames from the fireplace. The intimacy of the scene is suggested by the figures painted from behind in the foreground, as well as the group of women sitting on the left, who, forming a circle with the three singers, close the group. Born in Geneva in 1888, Marguerite was the daughter of the painter Eugène Gilliard, a professor at the École des beaux-arts. From a very young age she mixed in artistic circles. Trained by her father and Édouard Ravel, then in Paris with the portraitist Jacques-Émile Blanche, she exhibited at the Salon d'Automne already at the age of sixteen and then became a member. In 1909 in Savièse, she met Édouard Vallet, who she married two years later. Marguerite's premature death at the age of thirty unfortunately put an end to her promising career.