8.9. – 8.12.2019


The exhibition of works from the collection If pictures could speak … presents selected French Impressionist masterpieces and their astonishing histories, incorporating previously unseen archive materials and historic photographs. The archive of the Museum Langmatt, which was opened up in 2018, offers new possibilities for this. A surprising amount is known about the circumstances under which these pictures were acquired. Detailed contracts of sale, letters, postcards, and historic photographs exist. They offer a vivid picture of how and under what circumstances these artworks were acquired by the Browns in Paris before and during the First World War.

In the early 20th century, Sidney and Jenny Brown’s interest centred on the large format, dark-toned landscape paintings of the Munich School. This explains the considerable height of the gallery, which was housed in an extension which they had built by Carl Moser in 1906 for their rapidly growing collection. Shortly afterwards, however, their preferences changed. In 1908, at the instigation of the Winterthur painter Carl Montag, then living in Paris, they began to accumulate one of the most significant collections of French Impressionist artworks in Switzerland. Most of the artworks were required by the Browns between 1908 and 1919 – a truly pioneering achievement, as the Impressionists had not received recognition among the wider public. Thus, these pictures brought no social prestige or economic profit. No-one had any idea of how exorbitantly their prices would increase later in the century. In 1910, Jenny Brown wrote in her diary: “Every evening, we sit before the Impressionists in the studio [on the 1st floor], as we have not yet dared to transport them downstairs, fearing the many questions that our acquaintances would ask”.


Image: Exhibition view If Pictures Could Speak, Museum Langmatt



Saturday, 7th September, 17.00

Wednesday, 11th September, 12.15
A tour of the exhibition with Sarah Csernay, collection assistance

Sunday, 9th October, 12.15
A tour of the exhibition with Sarah Csernay, collection assistance

Friday, 15th November, 17.00
Teatime Survival strategies of private collections
Lukas Gloor, Director of the E.G. Bührle Foundation, in conversation with Markus Stegmann

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Opening times and tickets

Tues.–Fri. 14.00–17.00
Sat. / Sun. 11.00–17.00
Young people under 18:free admission
Standard price of admission:CHF 12.-
Reduced price of admission:CHF 10.-
Standard price for event attendance:CHF 15.-
Reduced price for event attendance:CHF 12.-