Heinrich Danioth

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Heinrich Danioth (born May 1, 1896 in Altdorf ; † November 3, 1953 in Flüelen ) was a Swiss painter and poet.


Image of the devil in the Schöllenen
Mural «Fundamentum» at the Federal Letter Museum in Schwyz

After basic artistic training from 1912 in Rudolf Löw's studio in Basel and in evening classes at the local trade school , Danioth began working as a freelance artist in his own studio in his father's house in Altdorf in 1916. After active service he gave up a job as a church painter in Upper Valais in 1919 "for reasons of artistic conscience". In 1920 and 1921 stays in Rome followed . In 1925 he attended the master class of the German expressionist August Babberger at the Baden State Art School in Karlsruhe . This study was Danioths artistic creation a decisive turn, and after his return to Switzerland in 1927 resulted in the traditionalist Uri to Expressionism one. Initially, he followed the compositional principles of Ferdinand Hodler and an expressionist formal language. The formal influence of Babberger was so strong that it became an almost compulsive burden for Danioth for a long time, from which he tried to free himself again in years of effort. At the same time Danioth had to defend himself against the derogatory label "Heimatmaler", which he was often given at the time. The acquaintance with the Uri ethnographer and writer Eduard Renner and the support from the family of the Uri industrialist Adolf Dätwyler were important for him .

In 1929 Heinrich Danioth took up residence in Flüelen. One year after his marriage to Hedi Weber in 1932, he built his own residential and studio house above Lake Uri in the spirit of modern construction , in exposed concrete, with a flat roof and wide open interiors, which caused a sensation in the surrounding area. He worked here until his death in 1953 after an unsuccessful operation on a brain tumor.


Danioth's most mature works were created in Flüelen, which had a major impact on painting in Central Switzerland. One of his most beautiful murals is the large-format "Föhnwacht" created on behalf of the Federal Art Commission from 1944 in the waiting room of the SBB train station in Flüelen. His best-known works also include the controversial mural «Fundamentum» from 1936 on the facade of the Federal Letter Museum in Schwyz , the legendary picture of the devil with the billy goat on the high rock face above the Devil's Bridge in the Schöllenen Gorge near Andermatt (1950), the murals “Tellsprung” and “Rütlischwur” on the Altdorf Tellspielhaus and the mural on the facade of the Schön am Lehnplatz (1927) also in Altdorf.

The rock wall painting above the Teufelsbrücke was re-attached to a new location when the new cantonal road was built (around 1958).

The "professional satirist", as he called himself, also worked as a draftsman and illustrator. He worked for the satirical magazine Nebelspalter for 15 years and also worked against fascism with accurate works in images and language in those times. He created posters, stained glass and panel paintings and also worked as a theater painter.

Danioth was also active as a writer. In addition to detailed diaries, he wrote schnitzel banks for the carnival and satirical verses. Towards the end of his life, purely literary texts were written. The most famous work by the poet Danioth is the “Urner Nativity Play” from 1945. In 1951 he wrote the radio play “The sixth of the seven days”. For this he was posthumously awarded the Central Switzerland Radio Prize at the Flüelen cemetery. In 1954 the works of Danioth Kunstmuseum Luzern were shown.


The Danioth-Ring Foundation, founded in Altdorf in 1963, has now merged into the “Uri Art and Culture Association”. In 1990 the Datwyler Foundation was established in Altdorf, which, as part of its art sponsorship, is continuing the donors' previous maintenance of Heinrich Danioth's work. In the Danioth Pavilion, which opened in 2009, Heinrich Danioth's comprehensive work is to be made accessible to the public.

The Swiss director Felice Zenoni (Mesch & Ugge AG Filmproduktionen) portrayed Heinrich Danioth's work in a documentary film that was released in early 2015.


  • Hans von Matt, Danioth-Ring (ed.): Heinrich Danioth, a monograph in three volumes . Zurich 1973.
  • Eva-Maria Müller: Heinrich Danioths literary work. Mirror of his being and the magical world. Dissertation, Altdorf 1988.
  • Beat Stutzer, Joseph Bättig, Karl Iten: Heinrich Danioth. 1896-1953. Life and work. Zurich 1996, ISBN 978-3-85823-606-7 .
  • Beat Stutzer: Between tradition and modernity. On Heinrich Danioth's murals in the Tellspielhaus in Altdorf and at the Federal Letter Archives in Schwyz . In: Art + Architecture in Switzerland, 55, 2004, pp. 22–28.
  • Werner Wüthrich: Heinrich Danioth . In: Andreas Kotte (Ed.): Theater Lexikon der Schweiz . Volume 1, Chronos, Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-0340-0715-9 , p. 431.

Individual evidence

  1. Support for Danioth by Datwyler.
  2. Föhnwacht
  3. Besat Stutzer: The mural at the Federal Archives in Schwyz . Gurtnellen 1978.
  4. ^ Press booklet for the documentary "Danioth - the devil painter" and short biography
  5. Haus für Kunst Uri  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.hausfuerkunsturi.ch  
  6. He painted the devil on the wall , Brigitte 01/2015, Switzerland edition, p. 6.
  7. 1954, exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern
  8. Description of the film & short trailer by the production company Mesch & Ugge

Web links

Commons : Heinrich Danioth  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files