Between paintings and pasture

Josef Orterer’s Staffelalm

Between paintings and pasture

Josef Orterer’s Staffelalm

At a height of 1,320 metres the Staffelalm towers over the Upper Bavarian Jachenau – a view that could be a painting. Green meadows and forests surround the hut beneath the peak of the Rabenkopf mountain. In the fields nearby the cows graze contentedly under a blue-and-white sky that seems close enough to touch. Walkers stretch out their tired legs on the wooden bench in front of the entrance. From the Staffelalm they enjoy a magnificent view of the parish of Jachenau, then across the foothills of the Alps to Munich in the distance.

The Staffelalm is home to two frescoes by Franz Marc

Whoever takes a break here can look forward not only to a hearty snack in this mountain idyll but also to a particularly special art experience. For the Staffelalm is home to two frescoes by a world-famous artist: Franz Marc – a co-founder of the Blue Rider group. Between 1900 and 1914 he regularly visited the alp and took inspiration from the breathtaking mountain panorama. Since this time a picture of a bull’s head has had pride of place in the building. In addition, a stag and hind adorn the wall above the cellar steps in shades of green.

Staffelalm
Stierkopf von Franz Marc

Josef Orterer is unfazed by the fact that his alp not only affords the most breathtaking views but also offers an insight into the creative process of a famous artist. “It’s a lovely story, and definitely the cherry on the cake,” he says. It doesn’t surprise him in the least that Franz Marc was a guest in his mountain hut, which was built in 1868. “Our family grew up with Marc. I know from my father and grandfather that he used to spend his summers up here on the alp. He drew studies of animals, made drawings and also painted those pictures on the wall,” he says.

For a long time the fresco with the two deer was hidden. In the course of the last century the staff painted over the painting several times. It only came to light again in the mid-1990s.

The dairymaid Britta Purzer likes having a genuine Marc in her room. She lives on the Staffelalm during the summer months, looking after the cows and taking care of the guests. She offers hikers hearty snacks, such as bread with cheese or ham or a “G’mischtes Brettl” – a combination of both. She bakes the bread herself and Josef Orterer supplies her with cheese from his diary. Curious visitors are always full of questions about Franz Marc’s pictures. She never tires of answering them – it’s a part of her work she really enjoys.

Staffelalm mit den Gemälden von Franz Marc
Brotzeit auf der Staffelalm

The privilege of caring for an alp

Whilst the dairymaid sees to the everyday tasks on the alp, Josef Orterer makes sure that the hut and the meadows are in prime condition. Once a week he goes up the mountain. He often takes guests who are renting rooms on his farm in Jachenau with him in the car to Staffelalm.

“When I’m there I repair fences, deliver firewood or drive the cattle from one pasture to the next. There’s always something to do,” he says. He also loves a good chat with any hikers who pass by – about Franz Marc, the weather or the fabulous position of the Staffelalm.

For Orterer it’s a labour of love looking after the alp. Just like his farm, it has been in the family for generations. The simple life on the mountain in harmony with the animals and nature is in his blood. Josef Orterer wants to uphold the family tradition and pass the alp on to his children in the “best possible condition”. “In Upper Bavaria there are more than 700 alps and to the best of my knowledge none of them has been given up for more than 20 years. The alps are particularly precious for us farmers. For me it’s a privilege to be able to look after the alp,” says the tradition refiner.

Josef Orterer
Almwirtschaft
Josef Orterer
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address: Berg 4, 83676 Jachenau
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email: kontakt@langerbauer.com
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web: //www.langerbauer.com