James Hart-Dyke - 'Mont Blanc: The Summit Paintings'
‘..in watching a sunset from Mont Blanc one feels that one is passing one of those rare moments of life at which all the surrounding scenery is instantaneously and indelibly photographed on the mental retina by a process which no second-hand operation can even dimly transfer to others.’
Leslie Stephen, The Playground of Europe, 1894.
James at work on Mont Blanc at Sunset with his Support Team - Pascal Tournaire
In 1894, the author, biographer and mountaineer Leslie Stephen dedicated The Playground of Europe, one of the best known and loved books about the Alps, to his friend and painter, Gabriel Loppé.
"My Dear Loppé, Twenty-one years ago, we climbed Mont Blanc together to watch the sunset from its summit. Less than a year ago, we observed the same phenomenon from the foot of the mountain. The intervening years have probably made little difference in the sunset. If they have made some difference in our powers of reaching the best point of view, they have, I hope, diminished neither our admiration of such spectacles, nor our pleasure in each other’s companionship. If, indeed, I have retained my love of the Alps, it has been in no small degree owing to you."
The Summit Paintings Past - Gabriel Loppe's 'Sunset on Mont Blanc' (6 August 1873)
The Summit Paintings Present - James Hart Dyke interprets the same view in 2022
In July 2022, James Hart Dyke climbed Mont Blanc to paint from the summit at sunset. His objective was to reenact and emulate as closely as possible the conditions under which Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913), made his pair of summit paintings at sunset in August 1873 in the company of Leslie Stephen.
As one of the leading mountain painters of his generation, Hart Dyke was accompanied by a retinue of guides, a cameraman and climbers as he ascended the Grands Mulets Route. This is a variation of the original l’ancien passage, taken by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel Paccard in 1786 on the historic first ascent of Mont Blanc.
Thanks to a weather window and judicious planning James was also able to spend nearly two hours on the summit from 8.15 pm to past 10 o’ clock and paint two pictures in situ. Although there was only a slight breeze, the temperature was between -15 and -20 Celsius.
'Shadow of Mont Blanc, Sunset' - James Hart Dyke
Now James brings a series of 12 paintings from the climb, including the two works completed on the summit, to the Alpine Club's Charlotte Road exhibition space where the two summit pictures will hang alongside one of the two painted by Gabriel Loppé 150 years ago.
The exhibition will run from 28 November 2023 to 31 January 2024 and is open to visitors from 12:00 – 17:00 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as on London lecture evenings.
The official exhibition opening will be held on 5 December. Here, guests will have the opportunity to speak with James and hear him discuss his work in conversation with William Mitchell. The event is open to all, but we aske that you register your intention to attend in advance.
The Aiguille du Midi - James Hart Dyke
Mont Blanc - James Hart Dyke
John Mitchell Fine Paintings has been exhibiting James Hart Dyke’s paintings since 2002. His work is centred on landscape painting, from the domesticity of paintings of country houses to paintings generated from physically demanding expeditions over remote mountains. James has also undertaken a series of projects including accompanying HRH The Prince of Wales as the official artist on royal tours, working as ‘artist in residence’ for The British Secret Intelligence Service, working as an artist embedded with the British Forces in war zones, working for the producers of the James Bond films and as ‘artist in residence’ for Aston Martin. These projects required him to respond in many different ways and have allowed him to experiment with more graphic forms of painting influenced by his studies as an architect at the Royal College of Art. His portraits have been shown at the National Portrait Gallery and at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibitions.