Cuno Amiet - Frau in Umhang, 1907
Ink on paper
19 x 13 cm
Cuno Amiet (1868-1961) painted his first self-portrait at the age of 15. In 1884 he met the painter Frank Buchser, who became his teacher for the following two years. In the autumn of 1886, Amiet went to Munich and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1887 he met Giovanni Giacometti, who became his lifelong friend. The following year they travelled to Paris together and Amiet began his studies at the Académie Julian. From 1892, however, Amiet became increasingly dissatisfied with the academy classes and went to Pont-Aven, where he discovered Gauguin and van Gogh and laid the foundations for his colourism.
In 1894 he exhibited at the Kunsthalle Basel, but his use of pure colours was largely rejected by the art critics. In 1898 he was commissioned to make a portrait of Ferdinand Hodler, whereby an intense contact between these artists was created and Amiet began to be interested in Art Nouveau.
In 1905 Amiet had an exhibition at the Galerie Richter in Dresden, where the Brücke artists became aware of him. In 1906, Erich Heckel invited Amiet to become a member, and in the same year he took part in the first Brücke exhibition in Dresden.
In 1914 Amiet received a solo exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich with a display of 124 works. In 1919 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern. Today Cuno Amiet counts as one of the most important pioneers of modern painting in Switzerland.
In the ink drawing Frau in Umhang the artist creates the figure with thin, controlled lines. Fine pencil marks can be seen beneath the ink traces, which the artist used as a preliminary sketch. This insight into the creative process leads to the conclusion that this ink work does not show a study, but an autonomous drawing that can be seen as an independent work of art. This is also indicated by the note attached in pencil, stating that the work was a Christmas present for friends: “Unseren lieben Freunden Weihnacht 1943” (For our dear friends Christmas 1943). It can also be deduced that the sheet was only given away 36 years after it was created.
At the centre of the work stands the lavish drapery of the cloak that completely swathes the woman. Only the face, hands and feet are not hidden by the fabric. With hatchings running in different directions, Amiet indicates a plastic swelling and deepening of the robe. The posture of the figure, who bows and stretches his right arm away from the body, creates a movement in the image that further emphasizes the drapery. It is particularly striking that the outstretched arm protrudes beyond the left edge of the image, which is why the outline of the hand has been cut off. Therefore, the opening of the body causes a breakout from the format.