Xavier Leprince

French, 1799–1826

Landscape of Susten, Switzerland (Paysage du Susten en Suisse), 1824
oil on canvas, 32 x 41 in. (81.5 x 105 cm)
Louvre, Paris

In Landscape of Susten, Switzerland, Xavier Leprince interprets the craze for alpine tourism when adventurers from England crossed the continent in great numbers to experience the grandeur of glaciers. The artist amusingly depicts the collision of high-altitude travelers with goats and cows along a mountain pass.

In this narrative landscape, Leprince transforms the towering icy peaks into a stage set: one man gazes up at the view in wonder while another pets a goat. A third tourist lays down his umbrella to sketch the scene. The Swiss guide, who transports the bulk of their gear, looks over his shoulder to examine the drawing. In the distance, a long line of animals animates the route and expands the perspective.  Leprince inserts an element of drama to his painting in the form of a huge boulder, perhaps deposited by an avalanche. This reminds viewers that alpine landscapes hold the potential for great risk and danger, which makes their traverse all the more thrilling.