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Alpine Landscape: The Handegg, Switzerland

Alpine Landscape: The Handegg, Switzerland

1850s

Jean-Léon Gérôme

(French, 1824-1904)

Oil on fabric

Framed: 36 x 47 x 5.5 cm (14 3/16 x 18 1/2 x 2 3/16 in.); Unframed: 26.8 x 37 cm (10 9/16 x 14 9/16 in.)

Bequest of Noah L. Butkin 1980.262

Description

This landscape conveys the artist's almost religious appreciation of nature: the tall, almost-black firs, whose tops point toward the sky, occupy the foreground like steeples marking a sacred place. In addition, the immense height of the peaks, especially when compared with the trees in the foreground, suggests the artist's own feeling of awe.

Although this work was painted in France, it depicts the Handegg, a peak in the Swiss Alps just south of Lucerne. The painting describes the experience of the many artists and travelers who journeyed from Northern Europe to Italy during the 19th century. A visit to, or through, the Alps was an essential part of the "Grand Tour," an extended trip to the famous sites and cultural centers of Europe.

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