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Cuno Amiet

Winterlandschaft, 1929
oil on canvas
78.0 x 65.5 cm
Winterlandschaft (Winter Landscape) belongs to a theme that Cuno Amiet returns to again and again throughout his long life, the landscape blanketed with snow. At sixty-three years old, he devises here a dynamic arrangement of forms and colours. Indeed, this winter landscape is not confined, strictly speaking, to a narrow palette of whites; on the contrary, it vibrates with blues in the shadows and glows with a reddish hue in the background under the rays of the setting sun. The meandering line of trees subdivides the sky while recalling both Gauguin’s cloisonnist paintings – in which the painter surrounds each colour area with a thin outline, a bit like the technique used in stained glass – and the Nabis, whom Amiet discovered in Pont-Aven.

Although he is treating a figurative subject here, Amiet is not in the least concerned with literally copying what he sees. As is his wont, he uses nature and his visual recollection of it to express sensations that he masterfully translates in his painting. To Oscar Miller he writes on 7 January 1912, “…painting is only concerned with lines and colour values… I cannot treat lines and colours freely and just as I like; on the contrary, the law imposes its restrictions on me. I’ve always experienced these restrictions as a source of rich inspiration. It’s the reason why I joyfully submit to the law and set little store by anarchy. This holds for me. I don’t know what other painters think”.
Cuno Amiet, Winterlandschaft, Paysage hivernal, 1929