Alexandre Calame: Born in Arabie, today a part of Vevey, Switzerland,
when his father died he was forced at age 15 to start working in a bank.
He began making small views of Switzerland, then in 1829 he was found a
patron, the banker Diodati, who made it possible for him to study art
full time. One of his most ingenious works is the representation of the
four seasons and times of the day in four landscapes, a spring morning
in the south, a summer midday in the Nordic flatlands, an Autumn evening,
and a winter night on a mountain.
Among the most celebrated Swiss landscape painters of the 19th century,
Alexander Calame made a particular speciality of Alpine mountain scenes.
Despite losing his right eye as a child, he was determined to make a
career as an artist, and studied with the landscapist François Diday
between 1829 and 1832. From 1828 he began producing vues pittoresques
suisses in gouache, intended for sale as autonomous works of art, which
allowed him a measure of financial independence. He first came to the
attention of French collectors and connoisseurs at the Salon of 1839,
where he exhibited a view set in the Bernese Oberland, entitled A
Thunderstorm in Handeck. The painting was a great success in Paris,
and was purchased by public subscription by the city of Geneva for
the Musée Rath. At the Salon two years later one of his paintings,
a View of the Valley of Ansasca, was purchased by the King,
Louis-Philippe. By this time Calame.s success was assured. His paintings,
worked up from oil sketches and drawings made sur le motif, were
in great demand, and were purchased by collectors throughout Europe,
and particularly in Russia. In 1854 he published a number of landscape
drawings and studies in lithographic form as Leçons de dessin
appliqué au paysage.