A Waterfall in Kilchberg near Basel
  • Peter Birmann
  • Basel 1758 - 1844
  • A Waterfall in Kilchberg near Basel
  • Pen and brown ink over pencil, brown wash, on laid paper,
    framing lines with pen and black ink,
    mounted by the artist on green board
  • with his inscription and monogram on the verso:
    No. 442 der Gießen. bey Kilchberg. c. Bàle/ PB.
  • 524 × 437 mm

Already as an apprentice in Basel and Bern, Peter Birmann specialised in landscapes and earned his first income as a colourist for various presses. In 1781, the Basel patron Rudolph Burckhardt made it possible for him to travel to Rome, where he soon found employment with Abraham-Louis Ducros (1748-1810). Birmann subsequently ran the studio of the vedute painter Giovanni Volpato (1735-1803) and developed close contacts with the illustrious group of German-speaking artists in the eternal city.

Despite the financial success of his watercolours and ink drawings with the ever-growing number of travellers to Italy, Birmann returned to Basel in 1791 in order to found an independent workshop and art-dealership. Specialising in views of Switzerland, Birmann soon achieved acclaim and financial independence, which allowed him to underwrite lithographic series such as the Voyage pittoresque de Bâle à Bienne (1802-1807).

The sheet shown here depicts a waterfall not far from Basel. The so-called Zeglinger Giessen drops roughly nine meters down from the small river Ei near Kilchberg into a natural pool and was very popular in the nineteenth century both as a destination for outings and as an artistic subject.