Rudolf Koller

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Johann Rudolf Koller (born May 21, 1828 in Zurich ; † January 5, 1905 there ) was a Swiss painter . Koller was best known for his Gotthard mail .

Rudolf Koller (1828–1905) painter.  Photograph by Franz Hansstaengl, Munich, 1858.
Rudolf Koller, 1858
Rudolf Koller in his studio around 1903


Koller was born as the son of a butcher and innkeeper and Maria Ursula Forster from Schaffhausen. First he attended the private school in the black garden , later the elementary school in the Fraumünster . From 1840 to 1843 he went to the Cantonal Industrial School in Zurich. He received his first drawing lessons from his uncle, a landscape painter. Even then, he decided to become a horse painter. At Easter 1843, Koller dropped out of school and began training with the drawing teacher Jacques Schweizer , the portraitist Johann Rudolf Obrist and the landscape painter Johann Jakob Ulrich , who gave him the decisive artistic inspiration.

Bertha Schlatter

In 1845 the first horse studies were carried out near Stuttgart in the stud of the King of Württemberg and Koller received orders for horse and dog pictures. In 1846/47 there was a study visit to the figure class of Karl Ferdinand Sohn at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf . It was there that Koller became friends with the painters Arnold Böcklin and Anselm Feuerbach .

In 1847 Koller traveled to Brussels with Böcklin and then went on to Antwerp and Paris alone , where he copied 17th century Dutch works in the Louvre and got to know the works of modern animal painters such as Rosa Bonheur and Constant Troyon . By turning to the French Barbizon painters' colony, painting in the great outdoors became more and more the focus of his work. In April 1848, Koller returned to Zurich, plagued by financial worries.

From 1849 to 1850 he painted on the Hasliberg am Brünig . He later traveled to Munich , where he met the landscape and animal painters Johann Gottfried Steffan and Friedrich Voltz . He painted horse studies in an Upper Bavarian stud and traveled to the Ötztal and the Zugspitze for study purposes . From April 1851, Koller lived again in Zurich and became friends with the painters Robert Zünd and Ernst Stückelberg . In May he opened a studio in Zurich-Oberstrass and received several orders for animal pictures. In 1852/53 he painted - in close collaboration with Robert Zünd - field studies on Lake Walen .

On May 5, 1856, Koller married Bertha Schlatter. The couple's honeymoon took them to Vienna, where Koller had already exhibited several times. In 1857 he painted the cow in the herb garden ( Kunsthaus Zürich ). He made friends with the writer Gottfried Keller , the cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt and the literary scholar and philosopher Friedrich Theodor Vischer . In 1855 Koller painted a portrait of Bertha Schlatter (Kunsthaus Zürich). In the late summer of 1858 Koller stayed in the Richisau area in the Glarnerland , where the picture Richisau was taken.

In 1862 Koller acquired the Zur Hornau house on the then overgrown Zürichhorn on Lake Zürich . He lived there until his death, worked and kept various animals in order to study them as closely as possible. From November 1868 to June 1869, Koller traveled to Florence, Rome and Naples to study nature. From 1869 he took students into his studio: Emil Rittmeyer and Traugott Schiess from St. Gallen , Charles François Vuillermet from Lausanne and Adolf Stäbli from Winterthur.

In 1870 an eye disease broke out, which increasingly impaired Koller's creativity. At the height of his artistic abilities, he received an order from the management of the Swiss Northeast Railway in 1873 . On the occasion of the farewell to the industrialist and railway pioneer Alfred Escher , she was looking for a present. Koller decided in favor of the Gotthard , the tunneling of which Escher was instrumental in initiating. The Gotthardstrasse, nature study shows the empty pass road in landscape format; the portrait format picture The Gotthard Post for Two Horses brings a detailed study of the carriage (not yet in full swing), another sketch finally shows the layout of the final composition. The Gotthard Post was a combination of the drafts and an extension of the panicked little calf. By contrasting two different sequences of movements from the slowness of the cows and the speed of the carriage, Koller achieved the desired dramatic effect. The Gotthard post hangs in the Kunsthaus Zürich today. In 1874 Koller painted a replica of it for the Credit Suisse bank in Zurich . The painting inspired Peter von Matt to write his essay Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost .

Koller was a member of the Zurich Masonic Lodge "Modestia cum Libertate" and the Zurich butchers' guild "Zunft zum Widder".

Poster for the exhibition of 1898

On Koller's seventieth birthday, in 1898, the first major exhibition of works with over 20,000 visitors took place in Zurich. In the same year, Koller was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich . In 1900 he traveled to Italy for the last time, where he met again with his friend Arnold Böcklin in San Domenico near Florence.

In 1905 Rudolf Koller died in Hornau . His tomb is in the Sihlfeld cemetery in Zurich next to Gottfried Keller. In the same year the Kunsthaus Zürich received selected works from Rudolf Koller's estate, including seven paintings and sixty-seven sketchbooks from all of the painter's creative periods, as well as furniture and props from the studio on the Zürichhorn. Parts from his estate, such as letters, memoirs and notebooks are in the manuscript department of the Zurich Central Library .

Koller's studio and home at Zur Hornau at Fröhlichstrasse 1 was demolished in 1938.

Works (selection)

  • Lying Greyhound , 1852
  • Herb Study , 1857
  • Friedli with the cow , study, 1858
  • Midday rest , 1860
  • Idyll on Hasliberg , 1864
  • Two calves kissing (Study on Autumn Pasture , 1867)
  • Boy on the White Horse , Study, 1872
  • Autumn evening , 1879


Web links

Commons : Rudolf Koller  - collection of images, videos and audio files