Picture viewing by Sabine Altorfer – this week: Romance in the snow – culture

“Manfred auf der Jungfrau” is the name of the painting. But there is no mountain climber standing there, but a young man in a theatrical red robe who is pulling his hair out. In the eyes fear and madness. What’s going on here? The archaic mountain hiker seems to be wondering that too, wrapped warmly in fur and leather, with staff and gaiters.

The large format hangs as an eye-catcher in the (currently closed) Romanticism exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zürich. Ford Madox Brown depicts Lord Byron’s famous romantic verse drama “Manfred” from 1817, which not only drove him to congenial creation.

An Englishman paints Switzerland: Ford Madox Brown, Manfred on the JungfrauAn Englishman paints Switzerland: Ford Madox Brown, Manfred on the Jungfrau

An Englishman paints Switzerland: Ford Madox Brown, Manfred on the Jungfrau

© Manchester Art Gallery

Sublime natural beauty against human despair is Brown’s motto: white, virgin snow, wonderful morning light, an eagle as a free master of the air and a down-to-earth hunter contrast with Manfred in his mountain-unsuitable outfit, ruffled by spirits, doubts and wind. Incidentally, Manfred does not fall. “My brain is staggering – but my foot is firm,” he says and can be saved – for the time being.

The text

«Manfred» is considered the romantic drama par excellence. The full text of Lord Byron’s dramatic poem in 3 acts from 1817 can be found in German translation here: https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/byron/manfred/titlepage.html

Sabine Altorfer was cultural editor at CH Media until the end of November and is now a freelance writer.  She writes primarily about the fine arts.  Since March 2017, she has been composing a picture review every week in “Switzerland at the weekend” - to match the season, current events or works that she particularly likes.Sabine Altorfer was culture editor at CH Media until the end of November and is now a freelance writer.  She writes primarily about the fine arts.  Since March 2017 she has been composing a picture review every week in “Switzerland at the weekend” - to match the season, current events or works that she particularly likes.

Sabine Altorfer

was culture editor at CH Media until the end of November and is now a freelance writer. She writes primarily about the fine arts. Since March 2017, she has been composing a picture review every week in “Switzerland at the weekend” – to match the season, current events or works that she particularly likes.

© Image: CH Media

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