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Cuno Amiet

Haus auf der Oschwand, 1914
oil on canvas
73.0 x 59.5 cm
In 1898, the year of his marriage to Anna Luder, Cuno Amiet settles in an apartment on the first floor of an inn in the Bernese village of Oschwand and sets up his studio in a shed next door. Ten years later, in the same village he has a Jugendstil house built by the architect Otto Ingold of Bern.

His home, the subject of this painting, will become from 1913 until the late 1930s a “place of pilgrimage” for artists and art lovers alike. “How many young artists arrived in that isolated village, their first attempts under their arm, to seek Amiet’s advice and make sure they were qualified to practice the profession of painter !” recalled Amiet’s former student Peter Thalmann, who had spent a good part of his own youth there.

The same year, which witnesses the outbreak of the First World War and the creation of Haus auf der Oschwand (House in Oschwand), Paul Klee and Alexei von Jawlensky visit Amiet for the first time. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he avoids the emerging system of art galleries and meets with his clients directly at his studio in Oschwand to conclude sales of his works.

In an expressionist style that boasts bright warm colours, Amiet depicts his property steeped in a summery atmosphere. Three red areas – the floor and roofs of the house – echo one another and resonate with the complementary tonalities of the different clumps of surrounding foliage, the whole bathed in a royal blue sky. “If you want to create something truly artistic, Amiet would say, before beginning to paint, think of the word that defines as best as possible the impression that your subject inspires in you. Write it down straight away to avoid running the risk of straying from it in the course of your work.”
Cuno Amiet, Haus auf der Oschwand, Maison sur Oschwand, 1914