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Ernest Biéler

Rolle, 1863 — 1948

The Swiss painter and illustrator Ernest Biéler (1863, Rolle – 1948, Lausanne) moved to Paris at the age of 17, where he studied at the Académie Julian and the Académie Suisse. He financed his education by illustrating novels by contemporary authors such as Émile Zola. In 1889 Biéler settled in Savièse, north of Sion. There, together with other local artists, he founded the so-called School of Savièse, which depicted Valaisan landscapes and their inhabitants in a particularly decorative and linear style. He was awarded a silver medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 and in the same year accepted into the Legion of Honour. In 1903, he was a co-founder of the Société des Traditions Valaisannes, which was committed to the preservation of cultural traditions in the Valais. Initially influenced by Impressionism, Biéler later turned to Art Nouveau and developed an independent, innovative painting style, for which he received numerous public commissions for frescoes, stained glass, and mosaics, including in the Bundeshaus Bern.