On an early morning in December, 1987, with the distant Alpine peaks silhouetted against the golden light of dawn and a blue-gray mist ascending the hillside where Roseman stood at his easel, he painted December Morning - View from Chardonne Overlooking Lake Geneva (Matin de Décembre, vue de Chardonne sur le Lac Léman), (reproduced above). The breathtaking view from the village of Chardonne, on Mont-Pèlerin, takes in a panorama of the eastern end of the great lake with its lakeshore towns of Vevey, La Tour-de-Peilz, Clarens, and Montreux; the awesome peaks of the Dents du Midi; and a range of the Savoy Alps.
A month after Roseman painted December Morning, the Chief Curator of the Museums of France, François Bergot, who praised the work as ''a very beautiful landscape,'' acquired the painting for the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, of which he was the Director. He had previously acquired the artist's work on the monastic life for the Rouen Museum, ''whose collections of paintings and drawings are among the most complete and most renowned in France,'' states the catalogue French Master Drawings from the Rouen Museum, 1981, by François Bergot and Pierre Rosenberg. The acquisitions of Roseman's paintings and drawings for Rouen include the portrait Dom Henry, 1978, from the first year of Roseman's work on the monastic life. Acquiring the portrait painting of the Benedictine monk, the Chief Curator of the Museums of France expressed "my admiration for this work imbued with insight and spirituality.'' (See Biography, Page 6, "The Monastic Life," fig. 3.)
In the nineteenth century, the English painter J. M. W. Turner made several excursions to Switzerland, as did the French artist Camille Corot. Both painters created a number of beautiful landscapes in the region of Lake Geneva. Gustave Courbet, who had been a member of the Paris Commune, took refuge in 1873 in the lakeshore town of La Tour-de-Peilz, where he rented a fisherman's house that had been a former tavern called Bon-Port. Courbet also gained inspiration for his work along the Lake in the beautiful region of Lavaux, in Canton Vaud.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky took up residence in 1877 in Clarens, between La Tour-de-Peilz and Montreux. Tchaikovsky continued work on his opera Eugene Onegin and the following year, composed his celebrated Violin Concerto in D Major. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Igor Stravinsky followed his esteemed compatriot to Clarens. There Stravinsky worked on his celebrated compositions written for the Ballets Russes: Petrouchka, the saga of the Russian clown puppet with a soul; and The Rite of Spring, also known by its French title Le Sacre du Printemps, with its evocation of pagan tribal rites in primitive Russia.
Spring Evening takes the viewer on a visual flight from the dark pines in the foreground and steep, wooded slopes and green pastures to the undulating coastline far below, where lie Montreux, Clarens, La Tour-de-Peilz, and Vevey. Mont-Pèlerin is seen in the distance; beyond, the silhouette of the Jura Mountains bordering on France. With fine brushwork Roseman renders mist rising from the lake and the sun's golden reflection in the pale, blue-green water.
Among twentieth-century writers and their works associated with the region is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who stayed in hotels in Vevey and in the villages of Glion and Caux, above Montreux. Fitzgerald refers to "an emerald hillside" in describing a scene in Book II in Tender is the Night. Ernest Hemingway resided in the hamlet of Chamby, above Montreux, in a brown house that is mentioned as a refuge for the narrator, Tenente, and his girlfriend Catherine in the final chapters of A Farewell to Arms.
Higher up the mountainsides above Montreux, narrow, winding roads ascend to steep Alpine pastures bordered by woodlands, as depicted in Roseman's splendid landscape August Afternoon - A Pasture on the Edge of an Alpine Wood, 1991, (fig. 3). Roseman painted August Afternoon to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Old Swiss Confederation, dating from August 1, 1291.
5. The artist at his easel in an Alpine pasture above Lake Geneva, spring 1988. Roseman's paint box, placed on the crossbars of his portable easel, serves as a worktable for his brushes and jars of painting medium and turpentine. On the ground, by his side, are a shoulder bag of art supplies and boxes for transporting his panels and the finished paintings.
"The morning sky was silver gray when I left the chalet in Chardonne," Roseman recounts. "I packed the car with my paint box, portable easel, panels, and travel bag of art supplies, as well as a thermos of hot coffee, and headed east towards Montreux, exited the highway, and started the long drive up the mountain . . . .'' The artist continues with his account of painting Spring Snowstorm:
Inspired by the castle's eventful history and commanding presence along the shore of Lake Geneva, as well as Lord Byron's famous poem The Prisoner of Chillon, Roseman created a series of impressive works, exemplified by Château de Chillon, Approaching Storm, 2005, featured here, (fig. 10).
Chosen from among a circle of her peers, the maiden begins her "Sacrificial Dance" to the pounding rhythms of the orchestra. The artist's vigorous pencil strokes evoke a visual sensation of Stravinsky's music and capture the kinetic energy and emotion of the star dancer. The maiden leaps in a frenzy, her legs bent under her tunic, her arms flung forward, and exhausted, the tribe's sacrificial victim collapses and dies at the climax of the ballet.
The northeastern shore of Lake Geneva and the Alpine pastureland inspired the literary imagination of a number of writers. Dostoyevsky's older compatriot Nikolai Gogol had come to Vevey some thirty years before and there worked on writing his novel entitled Dead Souls, considered an outstanding achievement in nineteenth-century Russian literature. The English Romantic poet Lord Byron came to live in Switzerland in 1816 and composed his stirring, narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon, following a visit to the medieval castle that dominates the water's edge, due east of Montreux. The American born author Henry James took up residence in Vevey at the Hôtel des Trois Couronnes, and the fine hotel, situated as the author notes "upon the edge of a remarkably blue lake,'' was a setting for his novel Daisy Miller, published in 1879.
In a pasture on a mountainside above Lake Geneva, Roseman painted a beautiful panorama of the great lake in the glow of an evening mist in spring. Spring Evening - View of Mont-Pèlerin and Lake Geneva (Soirée de printemps, vue du Mont Pèlerin et du lac de Genève), 1988, (fig. 2, below), entered the Musée des-Beaux-Arts, Rouen, that same year. Equally enamored of "this very beautiful landscape," the Chief Curator of the Museums of France acquired the painting as a companion work to December Morning, representing two times of the day traditionally devoted to prayer and meditation.
"Along the path by the shore,'' Roseman recounts, "at a place where the railing ended, Ronald and I climbed down onto jagged rocks. The descent was somewhat precarious as I was carrying my shoulder bag of chalks and my portfolio case with drawing book and extra sheets of paper. I found a large rock with a somewhat flat surface to sit upon. From my rocky perch near the water's edge, I had an excellent view of the castle, the mountains, and the lake. . . .''
Roseman drew Château de Chillon at Dusk, 2006, (fig. 11), looking westerly and in proximity to the castle. The artist's striking composition contrasts the massive towers and battlements with the surging waters of the lake. Combining chalks and pastels in this impressive drawing, Roseman renders the imposing, medieval castle silhouetted against an overcast, October sky permeated with mauves, ochres, gray-blues, and pearl gray.
Drawings account for a great part of Roseman's oeuvre. Speaking about the importance of drawing, the artist acknowledges Giorgio Vasari: "The celebrated sixteenth-century Florentine architect, painter, and author of Lives of the Artists affirmed that drawing is the animating principle of the creative process. Vasari, who was the first great collector of drawings, esteemed drawings for their inherent value."
Le Grammont, View from La Tour-de-Peitz, 2015, is a splendid drawing in chalks and pastels. Le Grammont rises 2,172 meters, or more than 7,000 feet, above the southern shore of Lake Geneva. The calm lake, rendered with sweeping strokes of grays and gray-greens, with reserved areas of the white paper, is strongly contrasted by the soaring mountain mass in bistre, green-browns, gray-umber, and blue-blacks.
1. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris - Drawings on the Dance at the Paris Opéra
(text in French and English), (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 11.
2. François Bergot and Pierre Rosenberg, French Master Drawings from the Rouen Museum,
(Washington, D.C.: International Exhibitions Foundation, 1981), p. vii.
3. With sincere appreciation to the staff of the Montreux Archives for their kind assistance in providing texts compiled by Fédia Muller
on the correspondence of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the journal Vibiscum, No. 6, 1996, on Nicolai Gogol in Vevey.
4. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, p. 12.
5. Ibid., p. 13.
6. Giorgio Vasari, Vasari on Technique, (New York: Dover, 1960), p. 205.
7. Nicolas Turner, Florentine Drawings of the sixteenth century, (London: British Museum, 1986), p. 189.
8. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, p. 12.
9. Ibid., p. 11.
"François Bonivard, the narrator of the poem, recounts the harrowing imprisonment he shared with his two younger brothers. 'They chained us each to a column stone, And we were three - yet, each alone.' The narrator poignantly describes his brothers' deaths in the dungeon. Although Bonivard 'had not strength to stir, or strive,' he endured four years of incarceration and was released when the castle was captured by the Bernese, who turned it into a depot and armory. In the last lines of Lord Byron's poem, the Prisoner of Chillon reflects:
With a painterly use of chalks and pastels, Roseman drew a powerful image of the Château de Chillon and the forces of Nature of an approaching storm. The dramatic sky is rendered in tones of gray, gray-black, and umber contrasted by light ochre, gray-pinks, and silvery whites. The artist juxtaposes verdant foliage, geometric forms of the castle with ochre-colored walls and red-orange roofs, and the rising diagonal of the mountain partly veiled in the distance. Splashing against the dark islet and rocky shore are white-capped waves that visually echo luminous passages of the animated sky in this superb drawing.
The northeastern region of Lake Geneva has been a creative milieu for generations of writers, artists, and composers. The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who came to Vevey in 1868, writes in correspondence to his niece: "The mountains, the water, the light - all is magic.''