Interesting facts 

That’s how the Reichenbach Valley became a Pilgrim Destination of famous Painters

In the past 200 years the Reichenbach Valley has attracted many renowned artists. Painters like Caspar Wolf, Joseph Anton Koch, Gabriel Lory (father and son), Peter Birmann, François Diday, Alexandre Calame and Ferdinand Hodler visited the area. They were attracted by landscapes in which the contrast between an idyllic valley and the rugged mountain peaks presented a fascinating scenery. The numerous oeuvres reflect, how people's attitude towards the mountains changed in time.

 

In early works they mostly appear threatening: in the focus often a roaring torrent surrounded by bleak mountains and dark forests. By and by the pictures become more realistic and gradually even the color green appears on the canvas.

The Austrian painter Joseph Anton Koch (1768 – 1839) is the actual originator of the independent artistic alpine painting: in his works the landscape is not just a backdrop, but the central motive. A good example for this is his painting “Das Wetterhorn von der Rosenlaui aus” (The Wetterhorn as seen from the Rosenlaui).

Among the numerous artists who visited the Reichenbach valley and captured its beauty with a brush or a pencil, two Swiss landscape artists deserve a special reference. François Diday (1802 – 1877), from Geneva, and his student Alexandre Calame (1810 – 1864), from Neuchâtel, found illustrative material in the area of Rosenlaui for their paintings. 

During their lifetime both artists were considered to be accomplished documenters of the mountain world. Their works, according to experts and the public, were characterized through true nature-likeness. The successive generations of artists criticized their works as partially being exaggeratedly pathetic. 

So, the perception of the mountains and the understanding of landscape painting reached a turning point in the 19th century: on the horizon a new medium was dawning – photography. This still young form of art met the requirements of realistic imaging far better than any painting ever could.