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Albert Trachsel


Trachsel (1861–1929) was a lifelong friend of his fellow-countryman Ferdinand Hodler, and his landscapes show similarities to Hodler’s work. However, in Trachsel’s output there is a clear shift from concrete views and locations into landscapes of the imagination in which for instance the island theme so popular among the Symbolists is depicted in soft shimmering colours.

Trachsel studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva and at the École polytechnique fédérale in Zurich. He moved to Paris in 1882 to continue his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts. From 1889 he frequented symbolist circles in Paris, getting acquainted with Auguste Rodin, Eugène Carrière, Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine. In 1892 he exhibited at the Salon de la Rose + Croix with Félix Vallotton, Carlos Schwabe and Ferdinand Hodler.

Although he trained as an architect, the majority of his architectural work was unrealised, but his utopian visions formed an important contribution to symbolist thinking. In 1900 he abandoned his work as an architect to dedicate himself to writing and painting. In 1901, after exhibiting his ‘Project for a Temple of Peace’ at the Exposition Universelle of 1900, he left Paris for good to settle in Geneva. There he abandoned his metaphysical subjects and returned to painting from nature. Trachsel died in Geneva in 1929.