Landscape in the Swiss Alps, c. 1840
Oil on canvas, H. 0.16 m; W. 0.33 m
Provenance: Private collection, France.
Alexandre Calame was brought up in very modest circumstances. From the age of 15, he began working in a bank to help out his mother. Having shown a taste for painting, his superiors allowed him in 1829 to frequent the workshop of the Geneva painter François Diday. Shortly afterwards, he left the office for the workshop and quickly met with success. Calame was strongly influenced by his contemporaries Corot and Rousseau, and especially by Dutch masters of the 17th century, such as Ruysdael or Hobbema. He travelled several times to the Oberland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, London and Holland to perfect his skills from contact with foreign masters. He dedicated himself essentially to the study of nature with a preference for the Swiss Alpine landscape, of which he became the undisputed master. The painter perfected a very clever formula for Alpine compositions which were in great demand from his bourgeois clients. Calame has succeeded in capturing grandiose nature that is hard to reach while opening the field to the imagination.