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Painting at the top of Mont Blanc

AS THE sun began to set, framed by one of Europe’s most prominent mountains, it became even more imperative for painter James Hart Dyke to reach the summit.

His mission, captured here, was to scale Mont Blanc in the Alps and recreate the summit paintings of 19th-century artist Gabriel Loppé, known for his work created atop mountain peaks. After two years of planning by Loppé scholar, climber and art dealer William Mitchell, Hart Dyke set off up the mountain in July 2022, following as similar a route as possible to the one Loppé took in 1873 to create his own summit artwork. A piece by Hart Dyke is shown above, with one of Loppé’s paintings pictured below.

The changing climate has meant scaling peaks like Mont Blanc is “far more dangerous and unpredictable than ever before”, says Mitchell. Melting glaciers and increasingly unstable weather conditions pose a very real threat to the future of climbing and the integrity of the mountains themselves, and today’s Alpine landscape is a far cry from that in Loppé’s time. “What struck us most was the frequency of avalanching ice, tumbling seracs [glacial ice columns] and the width and depth of the crevasses which have opened up,” says Mitchell.

Hart Dyke is pictured in his studio in Brighton, UK (pictured above), and below that at Mont Blanc’s Bossons glacier, climbing with his team (pictured below) and painting the summit view in the main image.

Works from the expedition, along with Loppé’s art, will be shown in MONT BLANC: The summit paintings at Cromwell Place, London, from 27 September to 8 October.

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