Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Johann Rudolf Rahn

Zürich-born Johann Rudolf Rahn (1841-1912) was a 19th century pioneer for the preservation of Swiss historical monuments and art. He would later help restore the convent of Wettingen and the beloved Castle of Chillon. Rahn was a prominent figure in the creation of the Swiss National Museum in Zürich, and was a prolific artist with almost 5,000 sketches attributed to him.

Portrait of Rahn painted by Ernst Stückelberg in 1877


While conducting research on Swissbib, a national catalogue of Swiss universities, universities of applied science, federal research institutions and the Swiss national library, I found the following three sketches of the Château de Vaumarcus done by a young Johann Rudolf Rahn (1841-1912) in 1860. They are valuable because they show the castle at the time of Albert de Büren and his son Henri when the foliage on the grounds was far less mature.




A more in-depth bio from the Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse (DHS):

Fils de Johann Heinrich, pharmacien, et de Maria Ziegler, de Winterthour. Orphelin de mère, R. vécut en 1843 chez sa grand-mère à Winterthour et, dès 1844, chez des parents, Margaretha et Johannes Steiger, à Hérisau. A 14 ans, il revint à Zurich, où le pédagogue et pasteur Heinrich Cramer s'occupa de lui. Grâce à son tuteur, l'avocat Eduard Meyer, il put obtenir sa maturité et entreprendre en 1860 des études d'histoire de l'art à l'école polytechnique et à l'université de Zurich. Après des séjours d'études à Bonn, Berlin et Dresde (1863-1864), il obtint son doctorat (1866), puis son habilitation (1869). Professeur extraordinaire (1870) et ordinaire (1878) d'histoire de l'art à l'université de Zurich, il fut aussi dès 1882 professeur d'histoire de l'art à l'école polytechnique.

L'un des pionniers en Suisse de la conservation des monuments historiques et de la recherche en art, R. publia en 1876 le premier ouvrage de référence sur l'histoire des beaux-arts en Suisse des origines à la fin du Moyen Age. Il suivit, en qualité d'expert, la restauration du couvent de Wettingen et du château de Chillon, ainsi que de divers bâtiments aux Grisons, au Tessin et à Zurich. Il dressa une statistique des monuments d'art et d'histoire par canton. Cofondateur (1880) et vice-président de la Société suisse pour la conservation des monuments historiques. Il contribua également à la création du Musée national suisse à Zurich (1890). Excellent dessinateur, très productif, R. a laissé près de 5000 dessins (notamment d'architecture).

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