The Swiss Art auction at Koller Zurich on 28 June features an impressive overview of Swiss painting from circa 1850 to 1950. Almost all important Swiss artists of this period are represented with oil paintings or important works on paper. Among the earliest works on the sale, alongside two landscapes by Caspar Wolf, is an important large-format landscape by Alexandre Calame (CHF 60,000/100,000). Further examples of 19th century pre-modern painting include works by François Diday (Calame’s teacher), J.G. Steffan, Barthelemy Menn, and Albert Anker.
An impressive pastel by Giovanni Segantini, “The last labour of the day”, 1884, stands at the threshold of modern art. Influenced by François Millet, it depicts a shepherd bearing a heavy bundle of wood as he drives his flock down to the valley for the evening (CHF 250,000/350,000).
Segantini’s younger colleague and student, Giovanni Giacometti, most likely drew inspiration from him fifteen years later when he painted the spectacular “Panorama of Muottas Muragl”: one of a set of four canvas panels which together present an over five-meter-long view of the mountains and valleys of the Swiss Engadine (CHF 2,800,000/4,000,000).
One of Giacometti’s trusted friends and travelling companions was the Solothurn artist Cuno Amiet. Koller will offer more than 15 oil paintings, watercolours and drawings from the Loeb collection, all acquired directly from Amiet. The most important work in the collection is the extremely modern “Die Obsternte” (The fruit harvest) from 1912 (CHF 600,000/800,000). Cuno Amiet, who was very close to the artists’ group “Die Brücke” because of his avant-garde tendencies, produced a work here of incomparably powerful expression.
One of Cuno Amiet’s most important models – and possibly a direct source of inspiration for the abovementioned work – was the greatest Swiss artist of the late 19th and early 20th century, Ferdinand Hodler. Hodler’s work “Die Schreitende” (The pacing woman) which will be offered in the 28 June auction was also created circa 1910 (CHF 280,000/360,000).
Segantini, Amiet, Giacometti and Hodler were all involved with art history as well as the art of their time, and developed their styles and motifs at least in part as a deliberate reworking and transformation of existing models. Diametrically opposed to this is the art of Adolf Dietrich. In his early phase, the day labourer from Berlingen lived a solitary life, accompanied only by his enthusiastic love of nature, but he managed to produce incredibly authentic paintings despite – or perhaps because of – his complete lack of professional training. In Koller’s Swiss Art auction two extremely rare works by Dietrich will be offered: his very first sunset painting from 1915 (CHF 150,000/250,000) and his first moonlight landscape, from 1919 (CHF 120,000/180,000).
Koller’s auctions dedicated to Swiss Art are a must for consignors as well as buyers in this field. Every important Swiss artist is regularly represented in the catalogues for our June and December auctions. For many of these artists, Koller holds the world record for prices realised at auction, and in so-called “fringe” categories such as 19th-century Swiss landscape painting, we also consistently register excellent results. The tradition of collecting Swiss Art runs deep in Switzerland, and there is scarcely an area of the country where our specialists have not received a work to include in one of our auctions.