KOCH, Joseph Anton
(b. 1768, Obergibeln, d. 1839, Roma)
The Schmadribach Falls1821-22
Oil on canvas, 132 x 110 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
In a letter written in 1797, the artist stated: "My genre is landscape painting, historic or poetic landscape."
In this painting we see a view out of the Lauterbrunnental to the Schmadribach falls in the Bernese Oberland. This brings us closer to Koch's idea of the "poetic" landscape, and to "heroic" landscape as well. By poetic he meant the combination and compression of several elements that are never experienced together in nature. Here, in this powerful depiction of the mountains, the view is directed both downwards and upwards at once. Peaks that in reality conceal each other now tower one behind the other, all in view. This makes the Alps look as monumental as a range in the Himalayas. But at the same time details in the foreground are clearly visible.
In all of Koch's paintings, nature retained its inviolable, indestructible grandeur and dignity. In his depiction of the Schmadribach Falls, certain alterations were made in the geographically precise view and the abundance of topographical details - such as the snowcap added to the mountain on the left, the Grosshorn - in order to heighten the poetic expressiveness and sublimity of the scene.