A Dragon as Decoration – the Tscharner House in Rothenbrunnen

“Im Herbst [in Autumn] han ich vil büecher gläsen und eins gschriben“, Hans Ardüser (1557- ca.1620) notes in his autobiographical chronicle of the year 1584. However, the teacher, poet and travelling painter from Graubünden achieved more that year than “reading many books and writing one himself”.

In the summer of 1584, Hans Ardüser painted a clock face for the church clock in Andeer, and in Domat/Ems and Chur he decorated three house facades. And in between, he painted the Tscharner house in Rothenbrunnen. Hans Ardüser's simple, down-to-earth painting style is still visible on the house today: here he painted the Last Supper as well as biblical figures such as Adam, Eve and Jonah. However, the most magnificent – and perhaps most irritating – works on the Tscharner house’s walls are an elephant with a trumpeter on its back and Saint George fighting a dragon.

How did Hans Ardüser know what an elephant looks like? He had probably never seen such an animal himself. The avid reader probably used pictures he found in books as templates. And the dragon? There were templates for painting this creature, too, and, in addition, dragons had a place in people's imagination at that time. However, the dragon on the Tscharner house’s walls is unusual: with its twists and loops, the tail resembles an actual ornament. Very decorative, thus, this dragon!

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