In the summer of 1921, Paul Gill, along with fellow artist, Sue May Wescott (they would marry in 1928), traveled widely in Europe on Cresson Scholarships from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. They stopped in the little town of Brienz, located on the north shore of Lake Brienz in the central Swiss canton of Bern. Paul painted a number of watercolors here, many which remain in the family. It was here, in Brienz that Paul “discovered white space.” His watercolors would always contain such spaces from then on. Our goal in 2006 was to see how many of these sites still existed, and, if so, what do they look like now. Taking photographic prints of the paintings with us, we walked about Brienz until we were able to locate virtually every site.
“Swisse Houses,” 1921
The Ballenberg, 1921.
A “Swisse Courtyard,” 1921.
May 2006
Across from the Bern Hotel, this building’s ground floor has been altered, but the balconies remain much the same.
Newer houses in the foreground give evidence of Brienz’s growth over the past 85 years, but the perspective and the church remains much the same.
The church in Brienz
View looking south over Lake Brienz toward the Bernese Oberland.
Less than a hundred yards (meters) uphill from where he painted the first view of the church, Paul did a second painting. Again, newer houses stand in the foreground, but the perspective is the same.
The “Flower Box” 1921.
The Church in Brienz
All of the watercolor paintings are by Paul Gill, 1896-1938. Works are on paper and vary in size. Most are approximately 10 inches by 12 inches.
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