This is usually the time when alpine enthusiasts get their fix in the mountains. But not this year.
“Each and every day this week my calendar has been kindly reminding me that I should be in Zell am See in Austria, skiing for my friend’s birthday,” says Glenn Fuller of London gallery Gladwell & Patterson. “If that wasn’t cruel enough, mother nature has dumped four inches of snow in the garden just to rub it in.”
Unable to get on the slopes this ski season, Fuller has brought his passion for the mountains to the gallery and selected more than 30 traditional and Contemporary pictures under the exhibition title The Call of the Mountains.
Russell Flint scene
Among the highlights in the show, which ends on February 21 and is available to view on the gallery’s website, is a ski scene by William Russell Flint (1880-1969).
A keen skier himself, the Edinburgh-born artist rarely travelled without his painting kits, executing many of his alpine scenes on skis. First Tracks, a picturesque work showing two skiers descending a slope with the feminine grace typical of Flint’s women, is priced at £29,500.
Alexandre Jacob’s (1876-1972) Soleil d’hiver, Gelée Blanche is one of six wintry oils by the French artist to feature. He made his name in the French Salons of the 1920s-30s and is best known for his tranquil depictions of his native countryside.
“Jacob was an absolute master when it came to painting snow and it is fascinating to compare his different works in this collection and how he can, through the expert use of colour, create such different effects and atmospheres,” says Fuller.
American-born Impressionist Edward Cucuel (1875-1954) also mastered the wintry look, though his stock in trade were summer genre scenes. His Winter’s Mantle, depicting a tree in a snowy landscape with a sun-topped mountain range beyond, is priced at £23,000.
A sweeping Scottish landscape depicting Ben More in the southern Highlands at sunset is the most expensive of a quartet of oils by Alfred de Breanski Senior (1852-1928), priced at £45,000. The artist, who was inspired by John Constable and William Turner, was fascinated by the texture of rock, earth and foliage and would focus on the minute details of a particular plant or craggy rockface. The mountains of Wales and Scotland were Breanski’s favourite subjects.
Contemporary works include a small group of owl pictures by painter Edoud de Groot and wintry landscapes by Martin Taylor, Michail Markianovitch Germasev and Miguel Angel Moraleda.
Hitting the peaks
Over at John Mitchell Fine Art, the London-based gallery is celebrating its 20th annual Peaks & Glaciers exhibition, which takes place online this year from February 18-March 26. The family-run firm also marks its 90th anniversary.
The show covers a selection of over 50 paintings, drawings and vintage photographs capturing the Alps in all seasons. The area is a speciality of the gallery’s William Mitchell.
“It would be self-defeating, I feel, not to mention that I do a lot of climbing as it goes hand in hand with my love and understanding of the subject matter,” says Mitchell, who has climbed over 40 mountains in the Alps since the late 1990s.
Paintings by the earlier peintres-alpinistes – the painters who were climbers themselves such as Alexandre Calame and Gabriel Loppé – combine with a more modern bearing to include two living artists, Giorgio Avanti and James Hart Dyke.
The show also features rare images of the early days in St Moritz by Alsatian photographer Adolphe Braun (1812-77).
A stand-out entry among the paintings is The Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, Mont Blanc, France by peintre-alpiniste Charles-Henri Contencin (1898-1955). The 21in x 2ft 5in (54 x 73cm) oil on canvas depicts the infamous Peuterey Ridge on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. “It is one of the classic rock climbs and ranks among the finest on the Mont Blanc Massif,” says Mitchell. The work is priced at £17,500.
This year several painters are making their debut appearance in Peaks & Glaciers. Among them is Swiss-born artist Samuel Grimm (1733-94) who came to England in 1768 after working in Berne, Paris and Normandy.
The Valley of Haslital, Berner Oberland, Switzerland, priced at £12,500, is from a series of watercolours showing the dramatic alpine scenery between Meiringen and Grimsel and is regarded as one of Grimm’s most attractive Swiss subjects. It dates to 1774, making it the earliest original work to feature in 20 years of the gallery’s alpine exhibitions.