The buildings, the collectors, the places of Switzerland
Six major collections within an hour of Basel
By Martin Bailey. From Art Basel daily edition
Published online: 14 June 2013
Emil Bührle (1890-1956) was born in Germany and moved to Zürich. His collection was centred around Impressionism and Post-impressionism, along with some Old Masters and later works. Most of his pictures were collected in the early 1950s. Bürhle was a highly controversial figure, since his Oerlikon-Bührle weapons company sold arms to Hitler’s Germany. After his death, his family gave 200 pictures and sculptures to the Bührle Collection, which opened to visitors in 1960, in a villa beside his former home in the eastern suburbs of Zürich. The pictures are scheduled to move to the Zürich Kunsthaus in 2017. Hours: the first Sunday of the month, or by appointment for groups.
Oskar Reinhart (1885-1965) was the scion of a Winterthur family whose wealth came from the cotton trade with India. In 1924, he bought the Am Römerholz villa (built in 1915), where he housed his collection of French 19th- and 20th-century paintings (and some Old Masters). Am Römerholz and its 200 pictures were left to the Swiss confederation upon his death. The house opened to visitors in 1970. Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm, Wednesday 10am-8pm.
Sidney Brown (1865-1941) and Jenny Sulzer (1871-1968) lived in Baden. Sidney (whose father was English) was a partner in Brown Boveri, then Switzerland’s largest engineering company. The couple bought 18th-century and Impressionist art from their marriage in 1896 up until Sidney’s death. Their collection of 150 paintings was opened up to visitors in 1990, displayed in the family’s 1901 Langmatt villa, on the outskirts of Baden. This summer, the display includes installations by the contemporary Swiss artist Ursula Palla. Hours: Tuesday to Friday 2pm-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm.
Hedy Bühler (1873-1952) and Arthur Hahnloser (1870-1936) lived in Winterthur. Arthur was an eye specialist and had his surgery in the family home. Their collection, ranging from the Impressionists to the Fauves, was assembled between 1907 and 1930. Built in 1846, Villa Flora had been bought by Hedy’s grandfather. One hundred pictures were given to the Hahnloser/Jaeggli Foundation, but around 400 were dispersed to various descendants of the family. Those on show are a mix of foundation and family pictures, in displays that usually change annually. The villa became a museum in 1995. Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 2pm-5pm, Sunday 11am-3pm.
Ernst Beyeler (1921-2010) and Hildy Kunz (1922-2008) were Basel’s leading dealers in 20th-century art. They set aside 200 works, which they donated to a foundation. In 1997, they opened a public gallery in Riehen, on the northern outskirts of Basel, in a magnificent building designed by Renzo Piano. Its current major show is on Max Ernst. Hours: daily 10am-6pm, Wednesday until 8pm.
Siegfried (1894-1985) and Angela (1932-) Rosengart were father-and-daughter art dealers in Lucerne. They also collected, focusing on French and Swiss paintings of the late 19th and 20th centuries, particularly Klee and Picasso. Their collection of 300 works was opened by Angela in 2002 in the former Lucerne branch of the Swiss National Bank (built in 1924). She also set up a separate Picasso museum in Lucerne, but this closed in 2008 and its pictures returned to the main building. Hours: daily 10am-6pm.
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