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Oil painting - The Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva
  • The Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva
    Heffner, Karl, born 1849 - died 1925
  • Enlarge image

The Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (painted)

  • Date:

    1883-1894 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Heffner, Karl, born 1849 - died 1925 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Hill

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Karl Heffner (1849-1925) was born in Würzburg where he first studied music. He was a pupil of Adolf Stademann (1824-1895) and Adolf Heinrich Lier (1826-1882) in Munich. He travelled extensively in Germany, England, Italy and Holland, exhibited in Vienna and Munich between 1873 and 1883, and in the Royal Academy in London between 1880 and 1881.

Heffner was one of the greatest exponents of the Munich School of Paintings led by A. Stademan and A. G. Lier who were his masters. This painting is part of group of six Swiss views mounted together and depicts the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva The castle was built on a site that was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe. Following the Realist technique, this work was probably executed directly after the motif in open air. This work is a fine example of Heffner's mature manner, which became broader and sketchier over the years.

Physical description

An oil sketch of the castle of Chillon on the shore of Lake Geneva.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (painted)


1883-1894 (painted)


Heffner, Karl, born 1849 - died 1925 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on panel


Height: 12 cm estimate, Width: 21 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Probably acquired directly from the artist (through Thomas Wallis?) by John Hill, of Streatham; by whom bequeathed to the museum in 1894

Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of Heffner’s mature manner which became broader and sketchier under the influence of such English painters as John Turner and John Constable but also the French Realists Camille Corot and Théodore Rousseau.
The palette is no more dominated by monochrome hues of yellowish brown like in his earlier paintings (see 865-1894, 864-1894, and 863-1894) but enlivened by cool tones and earthen colours applied in a thick impasto reminiscent of Paul Cézanne’s technique. It is a good example of the Realist movement that developed in the Germanic countries in the second half of the 19th century under the influence of French realism and the Barbizon school. It was probably executed in open air, following the tradition of Realist paintings.
This work may have been painted directly for the English market as Heffner regularly supplied pictures to the English art dealer Thomas Wallis, whose business activities brought to Munich. Such pictures attracted patrons and collectors and hitherto a great extent of Heffner’s oeuvre is to be found in private collections rather in public institutions.

Descriptive line

Oil Painting, 'Sketches in Switzerland: the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva', Karl Heffner, German school, 1883-1894

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 47, cat. no. 101.


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Castle; Landscape; Mountains; Lake




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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