Eugène Emmanuel VIOLLET-LE-DUC (Paris 1814 - Lausanne 1879)
View near Handeck, Switzerland
Watercolour heightened with gouache, on blue paper. Inscribed and dated au dessus / d’ handek / 19 juin 75 at the lower right. Stamped with the Viollet-le-Duc studio stamp (Lugt 2494a) in red ink at the upper right.274 x 378 mm. (10 3/4 x 14 7/8 in.)ENQUIRE
Dated the 19th of June 1875, this watercolour depicts a view near the Swiss alpine village of Handeck (or Handegg). Viollet-le-Duc had a lifelong interest in the mountains and glaciers of the French and Swiss Alps. Beginning in 1868, and in particular between 1871 and 1876, he spent many weeks climbing and hiking on the Mont Blanc massif. As has been noted of the artist, ‘mountaineering counted among his greatest pleasures, a form of physical and mental exercise that grew compulsive by the late 1870s. Above all, he took refuge in the mountains to liberate himself from the claustrophobic Parisian scene.’1 Viollet-le-Duc’s studies of alpine topography and geology culminated in the publication in 1876 of his magisterial book, Le massif de Mont Blanc. He was also a highly accomplished painter of mountain scenes and produced numerous drawings and watercolours of alpine subjects. Between 1874 and 1878, while he was engaged on the restoration of the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Lausanne, Viollet-le-Duc designed and built a villa nearby, called La Vedette, with a studio whose walls he decorated with a vast painted panorama of the Alps. In his book Histoire d’un dessinateur, published in 1879, he devoted an entire chapter to a description of a sketching tour in the Alps, with a detailed description of rock formations, ice and snow. Among comparable late watercolours of mountain or alpine subjects by Viollet-le-Duc is a view of The Chamonix Valley with the Aiguilles Rouges Massif, dated 1877, sold at auction in France in 2015.