Rudolf Koller

Switzerland / 1828 - 1905 /
Rudolf Koller (21 May 1828 – 5 January 1905); Swiss painter. He is associated with a realist and classicist style, and also with the essentially romantic Düsseldorf school of painting. Koller's style is similar to that of the realist painters Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Considered Switzerland's finest animal painter, Koller is rated alongside George Stubbs, Rosa Bonheur and Théodore Géricault. While his reputation was based on his paintings of animals, he was a sensitive and innovative artist whose well-composed works in the "plein air" tradition, including Swiss mountain landscapes, are just as finely executed.

He has been described as "the painter of the Swiss national animal", because of his paintings of cows in Swiss landscapes. He is considered, along with Frank Buchser and Gustave Castan, to be one of the most important Swiss painters of the 19th century. The Gotthardpost, or The St Gotthard Mailcoach, is one of his most famous paintings. It depicts a mail coach, drawn by white horses, speeding along a mountain road.

...Koller died in 1905, aged 76, at his chalet. His grave is in the Sihlfeld Cemetery in Zürich, near that of his friend Gottfried Keller (who had died in 1890).

After Koller's death, the Zürich Art Museum staged an exhibition of his works, including some from his earliest years, and various personal artefacts. To honor the 100th anniversary of his death the Hotel Adler fitted a "stand-up bar for dogs", consisting of cast-iron water troughs, to the outside wall of the hotel. The bar has a mechanism which refreshes the water every 30 minutes.

In 1898, in honor of Koller’s 70th birthday, a large exhibition of his works was staged in Zürich, and drew 20,000 visitors. In the same year Koller was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Zürich.

Switzerland in 2013 issued a commemorative 50-franc coin bearing a likeness of Koller's most well-known work, Gotthard Post.
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First Collected by

Matthias Staub


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