Biéler Exhibition in Bern – Vaud as it was 100 years ago

This weekend we went to see the “Biéler: Dream Reality” exhibition at the  Kunstmuseum in Bern.

I wanted to see his work because he is from the region of Switzerland that I live in and he focused on Swiss life as it was in one of the local villages.

Biéler was born in Rolle in 1863. AT 17 he went to Paris to study art at the prestigious Acedémie Julien. He was very successful in France where he was recognised as and original and accomplished painter of portraits.

His most famous works are realistic depictions of the life in the village of Savièse in Vaud. Im 1888 he had his first big sucess was a large format painting of  women in front of the church in Savièse. From 1900 to 1904 he focused on the painting the people of Savièse and founded an art school there.

I find these works quite beautiful. It is also fascinating to see how life was in this part of the world a little over one hundred years agao.

Biéler also painted symbolist works, some of which seem quite timeless to me.

I’ve put copies of some of my favourites from the Exhibition below.

This is the image that first brought him real fame “Devant l’égise de Saint-Germain à Savièse” -In Front Of The Church of Saint-Germain in Savièse. This is a big painting, full of life. The colours in the image below are more muted than those in the original painting but the quality of light still shows through

Here are some of the Society portraits he did

And here are the ones of the people of Saviése

This one shows the women in their Sunday Best clothes, walking home through the snow.

This stylised piece shows three girls from the village

And this gives a fresh-faced portrait of Alpine health

This is a favourite of mine. The title translates as “The Happy Beggar” and his face tells you everything.

This is the kind of face I still see in the mountains today.

The details in this scene of serving Raclette fascinate me. See the younger man with the red hair staring at the woman service Raclette. You can tell where his appetite lies. And the old man on the right trying to draw the old man in the centre back into the meal.

This probably the one I will remember the longest. The title translates as “The Old Man’s Funeral”

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