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Jakob Christoph Miville (1786-1836) – Romantic landscape artist from Basel

Exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum (Kunstmuseum) until 16 February 2014

By Shirley L. Kearney, German by Martin Pütter

If you feel the need to escape into an oasis of visual serenity during the chaotic preparations for Christmas then a visit to the Basel Kunstmuseum’s Kupferstichkabinett (Drawing and Engraving Cabinet) is just the thing. The Miville exhibition allows you to travel with this relatively unknown Basel artist as he ventures forth in the early 19th century on his exploratory studies and voyages – first to Rome and later to Russia, where he was engaged as a land surveyor. This gave him the opportunity of travelling to remote areas, where he was overwhelmed by Nature’s vast landscapes. A visit to the Crimea in 1814 yielded additional material for his numerous sketches, which would later serve as studies for drawings and paintings executed once he was back on Basel soil.

A mid-1800s fashion was for idealised topographical scenes painted from higher elevations, such as in Muttenz from a stone quarry, allowing one to gaze down on the city of Basel on the Rhine. Miville’s two largest works were painted at that time.

In 1826 he was employed as a drawing instructor by the GGG – the Gesellschaft für das Gute und Gemeinnützige (society for the good and the common benefit). Poor health put a damper on his happiness and career. In 1830 he was forced to stop painting, and six years later he died, aged only 50.

This is the first such exhibition of Miville’s art, bringing together over 200 drawings and paintings thanks to generous loans from Swiss and Russian collections. Information flyers are available in German, French and English.

Picture: Gaze from Miville’s window onto an orthodox church in Moscow. 1809 or 1814. Credit: Stiftung für Kunst des 19. Jahrhunderts, Fotoatelier Brigitt Lattmann, Gränichen


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