An early passion for contemporary art
The owners of the Villa Langmatt, Sidney William Brown and Jenny Brown-Sulzer, bought the first two pictures – one of which was Eugène Boudin’s Laveuses au bord de la Touques of 1895 – on their honeymoon journey to Paris in 1896. They soon began to collect contemporary art more intensively. Jenny Brown, who had been a painter herself in her youth and had informed herself on the subject, developed a particularly enduring passion for art. Around the turn of the century, the Browns undertook a number of art-related journeys. They also supported contemporary artists, especially in Munich.
The Munich Secession
The first art movement significantly collected by the Browns was the Munich Secession; they collected artworks by Franz von Stuck, Leo Putz, and Julius Exter. To house these large-format pictures, the couple had a gallery hall built in the villa by Karl Moser in 1906. However, the owners disposed of most of their Munich Secession pictures before the First World War, to pursue their new passion for the French Impressionists.
An early Impressionist art collection in Switzerland
From 1908 onwards, the Browns took advice from the Winterthur painter and art agent Carl Montag (1880–1956), acquiring paintings by Gauguin, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Cassat, and Cézanne from Paris galleries and collections. This gave rise to one of Switzerland’s first and most significant collections of Impressionist art.
A late interest in the 18th century
Circa 1920, the Browns developed a marked interest in 18th century France. They went to great lengths to acquire a picture by Fragonard (Young Girl with Cat). In parallel, they collected exquisite French furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries and a series of Venetian veduta pictures (18th century). In the early 1930s, they returned to early Modernist artists, purchasing a number of artworks by Boudin, Corot and Cézanne.
Valuable art and craft work
Aside from the paintings and a small number of sculptures, the Browns also collected furniture from different epochs and antique silver and porcelain. They accumulated a remarkable collection of Chinese ceramics ranging from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. These objects are in themselves an important part of the many layered and multifaceted Brown collection, which can still be seen in the Museum Langmatt to this day.
Provenance of the Collection
All of the impressionist artwork that comprises the collection of the Museum Langmatt was privately acquired by Sidney Brown and Jenny Brown-Sulzer mainly between 1908–1919 with a few additional purchases over the following decades. In the 1990s, based on excellent sources, the Foundation clarified the provenance of the works in the collection and published the results in the comprehensive catalogue of the Langmatt Museum's collection, printed by Hatje Cantz Verlag in 2001. Over the past years the museum worked alongside an independent external company to conduct further systematic provenance research on all paintings in the collection.
For further research requests, please contact the museum team.