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Niesen Funicular Railway | Bernese Oberland


Creator Armin Bieber
Printing year 1930
Sheet size (cm) 100×70
Printing technique Lithograph
Printer Kümmerly & Frey, Bern
Condition A
Asking price 3'700 CHF
Categories Bern(ese Oberland), on the tracks | by cable car, Switzerland

No mountain is as reminiscent of a pyramid as the 2362-metre-high Niesen on the shores of Lake Thun – in which it is magnificently reflected when the water is calm, as Armin Bieber depicts it in his original Art Deco poster from 1930. That he trims one flank: Is it to create tension? Because the silhouette, which had already been painted 1000 times – for example by Ferdinand Hodler or Paul Klee – and then photographed was too hackneyed for him? The fact that he bathes the mountain in the fiery glow of the sunset adds to the drama (even when the summit is at 2362 m above sea level, and not 2367 m as indicated on the poster).

Opened back in 1910, the funicular is extremely steep (which, although advertised, is not visible at all – the shape of the mountain simply beats any close-up): Over a distance of 3,5 kilometers from Mülenen (700 m above sea level), the carriages climb over 1640 meters in altitude which corresponds to a fabulous gradient of almost 70 percent. Accordingly, it takes half an hour to get on the top. The longest staircase in the world can also be found on the Niesen: 11,674 steps!

While studying architecture, Bieber (1892 – 1970) attended courses at the Bern School of Applied Arts and a private art school before embarking on study trips in Europe and – after his return from the Swiss Army – opening a studio in 1917, where he carried out a number of commissioned works: he designed posters and plaques, glass panes and calendars, stamps and certificates, painted, was a caricaturist and watercolorist, and drew at court hearings and sporting events.