“Hans Jakob Oeri – A Swiss Artist in Paris, Moscow, Zurich” runs at the Kunsthaus in Zurich until October 23, 2016. It is the first exhibition to feature this long underappreciated and forgotten artist and draughtsman.
Oeri was born in Kyburg, canton Zurich, into an aristocratic family of artists in 1782. As a young man he trained with landscape painter Johann Kaspar Kuster (1747-1818) in Winterthur for three years. He then travelled to Paris, where he studied at the renowned École des Beaux-Arts. Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), a Jacobin and friend of Maximilien de Robespierres, became his teacher and mentor there.
In 1809, Oeri decided to go to Moscow. He spent almost eight years in Russia as a portrait painter and art teacher. In 1812, the troops of Napoleon conquered Moscow, the city burnt down almost completely and about 10,000 Russian soldiers died. Oeri recorded this event in the form of a unique painting, which can now be seen in Zurich. Then he went to Kazan under the patronage of Russian prince Mikhail Mussin-Pushkin (1795-1862).
Oeri returned to Zurich in 1817 and became an active member of Zurich’s artist society. Among other things, he produced so-called “costume studies” – a series of 1,468 drawings of authentic historical costumes from different eras. Oeri died in Zurich in 1868.
“Hans Jakob Oeri – A Swiss Artist in Paris, Moscow, Zurich” features paintings, portraits, watercolours, gouaches, drawings and prints. Some of the exhibited works are on loan from private collectors, while others belong to Kunsthaus Zürich.
(Pictures: Hans Jakob Oeri / Kunsthaus Zürich)