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Alexandre Calame, At Handeck

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 Not on display
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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