The Brown industrialist family in Baden
In 1891, the inventor and engineer Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown (1863–1924) joined Walter Boveri (1865–1924) to found the Baden electrical engineering firm of Brown, Boveri & Cie. (BBC). His brother, Sidney William Brown (1865–1941), also moved to Baden, where he worked as a technical director and delegate for the Swiss administrative board of the BBC company from 1891 until his retirement in 1935 at the age of 70. He passed away in 1941. The two brothers were the children of the English engineer Charles Brown Senior (1827–1905) and Winterthur citizen Eugenie Pfau (1845–1929). BBC soon began to flourish, and as the 20th century went on, the company developed into a global business (known as ABB since 1988). It has been documented that during WWII, BBC’s German subsidiary used forced labor to expand its operations. In 1988, BBC merged with the Swedish company ASEA to form ABB Ltd. In 2000, ABB, as well as many other Swiss industrial companies, settled all claims for use of forced labor during World War II. For further historical information:
Swiss Banks Holocaust Settlement Distribution Process Final Report
Final Report of the Independent Commission of Experts Switzerland – Second World War
The Brown family at Villa Langmatt
In 1896, Sidney W. Brown married art-lover Jenny Sulzer (1871–1968), daughter of the head of the Winterthur company Gebrüder Sulzer AG. The couple had the Villa Langmatt built in 1900–1901, and accumulated an impressive impressionist art collection mainly between 1908–1919 with a few additional purchases over the following decades. Sidney W. and Jenny Brown and their three sons supported many artists and musicians of the era, and led a lively social life centred on the Villa Langmatt.
The middle son of the husband-and-wife art collectors, John Alfred Brown (born in 1900), died in 1987, as the last heir of the family name. Like his brothers Sidney Hamlet (1898–1970) and Harry Frank (1905–1972), he died childless. He bequeathed the Villa Langmatt to the city of Baden together with its furnishings and valuable art collection, stipulating in his will that the ensemble should be turned into a museum. The city of Baden duly founded the public foundation «Stiftung Langmatt Sidney und Jenny Brown» (the patron having requested that the foundation be named after his parents). In 1990, the doors of the Museum Langmatt were opened to the public for the first time.
Main picture: John A. Brown and his mother Jenny Brown-Sulzer in the garden of Villa Langmatt, around 1928, Archiv Museum Langmatt