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Key facts
Full title At Handeck
Artist Alexandre Calame
Artist dates 1810 - 1864
Date made about 1860
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 39.4 × 24.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Mr Asbjørn Lunde through the American Friends of the National Gallery, 2016
Inventory number NG6660
Location Room 46
Art route(s) B and C
Collection Main Collection
At Handeck
Alexandre Calame

The view is of Handeck, a hamlet in the Haslital valley in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. We are looking south towards the Bernese Alps and its glaciers in the far distance. The Handeck Falls – for which the area is well known – can be seen in the narrow pass just below. The river in the valley is the Aare, which flows from the glaciers.

The Swiss artist Calame was a frequent visitor to the Bernese Alps, and the untamed, rugged beauty of Handeck especially appealed to him. In this small painting, a tall pine tree dominates the scene, rising from a steep mountain overlooking the valley. A storm appears to gather overhead.

Trees had a symbolic meaning for Calame. Although damaged by severe weather, this solitary pine tree might be seen as a symbol of strength, and such human qualities as endurance in the face of adversity.

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