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Alps, Two Paintings by Gabriel Loppé

Two paintings by Gabriel Loppé. In the pages of the ‘Alpine Journal’ there is probably no biographical sketch more sympathetic than that of the artist, Gabriel Loppe (1825-1913), by D. W. Freshfield (A.J. 37, 334).

Two of his paintings, held by the Philadelphia Art Museum since 1893 and recently sold at auction, were secured by the editor because of their historical associations. They are large canvases (4×6 ft.), undated, but executed about 1870. The titles are: "Glacier of the Gorner and the Matterhorn at Sunset,” and “The Black Vein on the Mer de Glace at Chamounix.” The latter is a fine study of crevassed ice with the Aig. de Géant and the Grands Charmoz as a background. In this scene a lady in red hoopskirt, and her male companion, are being escorted by a guide down a slender crest of sérac. Alpenstocks are being used and the party is unroped.

Loppe was born in Montpellier, the son of a captain of engineers, and studied for a short time in the studio of Diday, at Geneva, but was largely self-taught. A crossing of the Strahlegg Pass in 1846 opened his eyes to the Alpine world. In 1851 he married and settled at Annecy, moving to Geneva in 1862.

He visited Chamonix as early as 1849, and in 1861 ascended Mont Blanc three times to make studies for his “Sunrise,” now in the Alpine Club rooms. He was elected an honorary member of that organization in 1864, proposed by Alfred Wills and seconded by Leslie Stephen, the second edition of whose Playground of Europe is dedicated to Loppé.

The artist painted on the summit of Mont Blanc on eleven occasions, being there with Stephen in 1873 and witnessing the sunset which gave rise to the latter’s noted essay in Cornhill Magazine. Loppé’s mission was to depict the glacier, to be the painter of snow mountains, and many members of the American Alpine Club will recall the permanent exhibition of his works at Chamonix.