Woodcarving in Brienz


Category:
Traditional craftsmanship
Canton:

Description

In the famine of 1816, wood turner Christian Fischer from Brienz started decorating goods with wood carvings and selling them to tourists. In order to meet growing demand he soon began teaching the skill to people from the region. In 1851, Brienz woodcarving achieved international recognition at the London Exposition. "Brienz Woodcarving School" was founded in 1884, becoming an educational institution and official training workshop of the canton of Bern in 1928. Now known as the "School of Woodcarving", the institution is the only place in Switzerland where young people can learn the art of woodcarving. Since 2009 the school has also provided vocational training for new turners, basket makers, coopers and white-wood coopers. Today, professional woodcarvers run independent businesses, fulfilling demanding contracts but also producing souvenirs, since the ties between woodcarving and tourism remain strong after two hundred years despite various attempts at diversification. Because the products and the historical and practical knowledge of woodcarving are threatened by the changing generations, the "Association for the Collection and Exhibition of Brienz Woodcarvings" was established in 1990, in turn establishing the "Swiss Woodcarving Museum" in 2009.

Image gallery

  • Andreas Baumann (1812–1899): Jewellery case, ca 1890 (limewood, 17.5 cm high) © Bernische Stiftung für Angewandte Kunst und Gestaltung
  • Johann Huggler (1834–1912): Melchthal group, 1898 (walnut, 40 cm high) © Bernische Stiftung für Angewandte Kunst und Gestaltung
  • Christian Fischer (1789-1848): William Tell, ca 1820-1830 (maple, 35.5 cm high) and dairymaid, ca 1830-1840 (pear wood, 38.5 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Entrance to the School of Woodcarving in Brienz: A life-size tourist, carved by a student in 2006 (raw limewood, 170 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Brienz, 2003: A student at the School of Woodcarving © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Figurine, student’s work, 2010 (painted limewood, 30 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Three reliefs with plants, student’s work, 2004 (stained limewood, 60 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • From the stock of teachers’ drawings at the School of Woodcarving in Brienz, dating from around 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1965 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1963 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1968 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1963 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • An old woodcarver from the Brienz region making salad servers, ca 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • The old School of Woodcarving in Brienz: Furniture carved by students, ca 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Andreas Baumann (1812–1899): Jewellery case, ca 1890 (limewood, 17.5 cm high) © Bernische Stiftung für Angewandte Kunst und Gestaltung
  • Johann Huggler (1834–1912): Melchthal group, 1898 (walnut, 40 cm high) © Bernische Stiftung für Angewandte Kunst und Gestaltung
  • Christian Fischer (1789-1848): William Tell, ca 1820-1830 (maple, 35.5 cm high) and dairymaid, ca 1830-1840 (pear wood, 38.5 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Entrance to the School of Woodcarving in Brienz: A life-size tourist, carved by a student in 2006 (raw limewood, 170 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Brienz, 2003: A student at the School of Woodcarving © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Figurine, student’s work, 2010 (painted limewood, 30 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Three reliefs with plants, student’s work, 2004 (stained limewood, 60 cm high) © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • From the stock of teachers’ drawings at the School of Woodcarving in Brienz, dating from around 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1965 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1963 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1968 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Brienz, ca 1963 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • Woodcarver with his work, Schwanden near Brienz, ca 1960 © Peter Ernst, Brienz/Stiftung Holzbildhauerei
  • An old woodcarver from the Brienz region making salad servers, ca 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz
  • The old School of Woodcarving in Brienz: Furniture carved by students, ca 1900 © Schule für Holzbildhauerei Brienz

References and documentation

Publications
  • Jay Arenski: Swiss carvings. The art of the «Black Forest», 1820-1940. Ed. Antique Collectors' Club. Woodbridge, 2008

  • Peter Flück: Der Holzbildhauer. Chronologie eines Kunsthandwerks (Schnitzlerschule Brienz von 1884-1984. Ausstellung im Kornhaus Bern, vom 28. Januar bis 4. März 1984). Bern, 1984

  • Peter Flück: Kantonale Schnitzlerschule Brienz, 1884-1984. Brienz, 1984

  • Max Gygax: Werden und Vergehen einer Schnitzlerdynastie. In: Jahrbuch vom Thuner- und Brienzersee 1995. Ed. Uferschutzverband Thuner- und Brienzersee. Matten-Interlaken, 1995, p. 97-109

  • Max Gygax: Wie Brienz zum Schnitzlerdorf wurde. In: Heimatbuch Brienz 1999. Ed. Kulturfondskommission Einwohnergemeinde Brienz. Brienz, 1999, p. 113-120

  • Erich Schild: Arbeiten für drei Franken fünfzig im Tag. Wie lebte eine Schnitzlerfamilie Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts? In: Der Brienzer, 1. Mai 2001

  • Schweizer Holzbildhauerei Museum: Über uns und unsere Arbeit. Brienz, 2010

Documentation