Sunday, December 14, 2014

Frank Buchser

Portrait of a Bedouin
19th century
oil on canvas mounted on masonite
22.6 × 16.9 cm
private collection

Frank Buchser (1828-1890) was a Swiss painter and world traveler, adventurer, fighter for assorted causes, womanizer who was a colorful figure by any standard, not in the least by those of his native Switzerland. As a young artist from Solothurn, he went beyond the paths generally trodden by Swiss artists - France, Germany and Italy - to such countries as Holland, England, and Spain, and further afield to North Africa and America. Thought he spent prolonged periods of time abroad, he never became an expatriate, like so many nineteenth-century Swiss artists, rather, he always remained firmly attached to his native soil. Though he had some academic training, his artistic development probably owed less to those teachers than to the lessons he learned from the Old Masters.

Born in Feldbrunnen, Switzerland, he was the son of a farmer and served an apprenticeship as an organ and piano maker in Solothurn and Bern. In 1847, after a trip through Paris to Florence and Rome, he decided to become a painter. He served in the Papal Swiss Guard, which enabled him to study painting at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. In 1848 he joined briefly at the Garibaldi's troops. From 1849 to 1850 he studied painting in Paris, and from 1850 to 1852 in Antwerp. From 1852 to 1853, he traveled to Spain, where he found early attention as a painter and draftsman. Even after 1853, he went to the England several times, where he was active as a commissioner of the department of Swiss art at the Great Exhibition in London in 1862. Personal highlights of his travels were: to the city of Fez in Morocco in 1858, from 1866 to 1871 to the United States. In his last years he campaigned for reform of exhibitions and was also a pioneer of the Federal Decree of 1887 to encourage and uplift of the Swiss art. From 1888 to 1890 he was one of the members of the Federal Art Commission. He died in Feldbrunnen, Switzerland. He was a Freemason.