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Ferdinand Hodler Washington exhibition showcases Swiss painter

painting of woman dancing
(Bettina Jacot-Descombes/Smithsonian)

Ferdinand Hodler is one of the best-known Swiss painters of the 19th century. Now one of his works is the centrepiece of an exhibition running until November 12, 2018 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. 

“Portraits of the World: Switzerland” is the title of this inaugural exhibition in a series “highlighting the global context of American portraiture”, according to the galleryexternal link. It features Hodler’s Femme en Extase (woman in ecstasy), a portrait of the Italian dancer Giulia Leonardi on loan from the Museum of Art and History in Geneva. 

Gallery curator Robyn Asleson explains in this video the importance of Hodler and of his  Femme en Extase:

The gallery says that Femme en Extase “embodies the Swiss modernist approach to expressing emotion through movements of the body — a theory known as eurhythmics — which had an international impact”. The Hodler painting will be complemented by works from the Portrait Gallery’s collection showing American dancers influenced by eurhythmics. 

Hodler was one of three Swiss artists along with Giovanni Giacometti and Cuno Amiet who dominated the art scene in Switzerland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, greatly influencing Swiss modern art. 

Here is a selection of their work from a 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Art in Lucerne.  

Three great Swiss artists

Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni Giacometti and Cuno Amiet  This triumvirate of Swiss artists, who were both friends and rivals, dominated the ...


Adapted from German by Julia Crawford ,

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