L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Corps de paysans, travaux, paysages - photographs of Gustave Roud

Unless otherwise noted, these images are circa 1940s.

Gustave Roud (20 April 1897, Saint-Légier – 10 November 1976, Moudon),  French-speaking Swiss poet and photographer. In 1908, at the age of eleven, he moved, along with his parents and sister, to a farm in Carrouge in the Vaud countryside, inherited from his maternal grandfather; he would spend the rest of his life there. In high school he studied the classics and took classes with the renowned Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet and the Swiss-French writer Edmond Gilliard. He continued his study of the classics at the University of Lausanne, where he obtained his licence ès lettres (equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts). During this time, he translated the poems of Hölderlin, Novalis, and Rilke, while also actively participating in a number of literary journals. Afterwards, while living a solitary life in his family farm at Carrouge, often in frail health, he maintained numerous friendships with artists, poets, and other intellectuals, and was also a mentor to the young Philippe Jaccottet, who would later become one of Switzerland's most accomplished poets.

"Autoportrait au bureau", circa 1917.

Considered one of the greatest poets of Romandie - the French-speaking part of western Switzerland - Roud's poetry is inspired by and dedicated to the landscapes of the Haut-Jorat. As a poet and as a man, he was in a constant state of wandering while absolutely rooted to the landscapes that he never actually left; "the road, my only country ...", he wrote, but that road was only a series of postponed departures, vague, endangered, fading.

"Chemin de campagne avec vue sur Lussery".

From the age of sixteen, he was also a passionate photographer; eventually he had his own dark room in which to print his work. His photographs, both black and white and color - numbering somewhere around thirteen thousand - were never exhibited during his lifetime. But they were well known to his associates, with whom he shared prints. And the models, his friends, local farm workers, were happy to pose; he was also something of the village photographer, shooting wedding and parties and award ceremonies. The homo-eroticism of much of his work, so obvious to us now, did not go entirely unnoticed in his lifetime. But the subtext of the images and the sexual nature of the poet - whatever that may have been - was left unexamined; only recently have scholars begun to open that door.

"Paysans lors de la fenaison".
"Table avec des fleurs, des photographies et des coupes, à l'intérieur de la maison de Roud", circa 1930-1960.
"Olivier Cherpillod fauchant", circa 1925.
"Route bordée d'arbres avec l'église de Cotterd".
"Intérieur, avec bouquet de fleurs et photographies", circa 1940-60.

"Paysans, dont Fernand Cherpillod, au foin", circa 1935-1955.
"Fernand Cherpillod au labour".
"Autoportrait avec Fernand Cherpillod".
"Route bordée d'arbres et de champs".
"Route longeant un bois, avec rue en arrière-plan".,
"Autoportrait en ombre, avec André Ramseyer travaillant à la fourche". Autoportrait en ombre... self-portrait in shadow....



  1. Beautiful photos, completely new to me. Thanks for opening that door.

  2. Thank you for sharing this information about Gustave Roud. It's so rare to see the hidden life and desires of a presumably gay man prior to the liberation of the 1970's. His photographs are so well observed and delicately made I can easily imagine his life in the Swiss countryside.