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Swiss landscape painting before Alexandre Calame was dominated by a picturesque vision of an idyllic countryside. The painter Wolfgang-Adam Töpffer (1766–1847) observed that "we have only our mountains. . . and without them, everything would be imperceptible in our own fine country." Nevertheless, rather than focus on these mountains, he often produced small-scale scenes of rural life. Caspar Wolf (1735–1783), the foremost eighteenth-century Swiss landscape painter, was influenced by the theories of the Enlightenment; his paintings combine topographical accuracy with an idealized ordering of nature, and his work was greatly admired by many later artists, Diday and Calame among them.

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