127. Robert Zünd

Lucerne 1827 – 1909 Lucerne

Storm-Ridden Landscape, 1854

Incised directly into the still-wet paint, the date 18 July 54 suggests that Robert Zünd completed this study in a single day. With astonishing skill in the depiction of light, the artist captures the dramatic mood of an approaching summer storm. A tiny shepherd rushes towards a group of trees, seeking shelter for himself and his flock. The leaden sky takes up two-thirds of the painting, and the fluidity of execution of the heavy clouds suggests their perpetual motion. Zünd trained under François Diday (cat. 22) and Alexandre Calame (cat. 43), two of Switzerland’s leading landscapists and enthusiastic proponents of plein air painting. Zünd’s own oil sketches were greatly admired by a small circle of friends and acquaintances but, despite receiving many generous offers, he never exhibited them or offered them for sale. In a letter dated 14 February 1904, 50 years after the making of this painting, the artist wrote: “I am not willing to part with one single study!”1

1Robert Zünd in a letter to Ulrich Gutersohn dated 14 February 1904. Susanne Neubauer (ed.), Robert Zünd, exhib. cat., Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Lucerne, Wabern-Bern 2004, p. 164.