Nocturne des Alpes
Oil on canvas; signed; signed and labelled with title verso.
H92 x W138x D0 / H36.2 x W54.3in
Exhibited probably as Doldenhorn-Berner Oberland, The Society of Women Artists, 1935, no. 26
The scene is Oeschinen Lake, looking up at the Blüemlisalp in the Bernese Oberland, where Hechle climbed and painted around 1934. Her obituary in The Times read: ‘Gifted with imagination and a good sense of design, she broke away from the usual rather sentimental treatment of mountains in favour of a simplified statement with the rhythms of structure strongly accentuated so that the effect of great scale was preserved even in a small picture’. Hechle was born and raised in the Peak District of Derbyshire, an area famous for its climbing tradition. She became an experienced climber and scrambler, and was a stalwart of the Ladies Alpine Club, where she gave a lecture in 1928 in which she issued ‘some valuable practical directions, i.e. that the best place from which to draw one mountain is from half way up another’ (Ladies Alpine Club Yearbook, 1929, p 40). Hechle’s fanciful work as an illustrator is populated by fairies and spirits, and there is an almost animist dimension to her paintings of mountains that she painted on the spot at altitude (this painting is on an unusual folding stretcher, for ease of carriage).