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Kunstmuseum Winterthur:

Collection history – overview

Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser began purchasing art shortly after the turn of the century. The couple had the salon built in 1908, and they attached great importance to its decoration. They also wanted its walls to be adorned with attractive paintings. What began as a few sporadic purchases soon became a real passion, developing quickly and intensively and resulting in one of the most important Swiss art collections of the time.

Hodler - Kirschbaum 1906

Ferdinand Holder, The Cherry Tree, 1906

Private collection

The collection, which is known today primarily for its French masterpieces, was not oriented initially towards this goal. At the beginning, the Hahnlosers' taste was still influenced by the dark-toned German art of the 19th century. Hedy had studied painting in Munich. However, they soon discovered Swiss modernism at the Turnus exhibition in Zurich: Cuno Amiet, Giovanni Giacometti and Ferdinand Hodler.

Later, they became increasingly open to the latest trends from Paris, namely Post-Impressionism. The painters of the Nabis – Bonnard, Vuillard and Vallotton – became a focal point of the collection, and the Hahnlosers maintained personal contacts and even friendships with many of the artists. They were particularly close friends with Félix Vallotton, from whom they acquired numerous paintings over the years, including some major works.

"With this realisation, the desire 'de vivre notre temps' grew in us. The fact that we had reached their creators through their works and not the other way around resulted in a friendship that was free of all material considerations. The deepening affiliation to the circle of artist friends became the richest element of our lives."

Hedy Hahnloser

Cézanne - Plaine provencale

Paul Cézanne, Plaine provençale, 1883–1885

Kunst Museum Winterthur, Hahnloser/Jaeggli Stiftung

Foto: Reto Pedrini, Zürich

The contemporary paintings of their artist friends were soon joined by historical additions by artists whom the Hahnlosers saw as pioneers: Early on, they supplemented their collection selectively with works by the masters of modernism, including Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh and Manet. These were already widely known and established at the time, but – especially in Switzerland – they were far from being uncontroversial.

The Hahnloser Collection is characterised by the courage and openness of the collector couple. Hedy and Arthur were among the very first collectors in Switzerland to devote themselves to French Modernism after the turn of the century. In doing so, they not only left their mark on the cultural city of Winterthur, but also played an essential role in establishing French Post-Impressionism in Switzerland and beyond.


Félix Vallotton, La Blanche et la Noire, 1913

Kunst Museum Winterthur, Hahnloser/Jaeggli Stiftung

Foto: Reto Pedrini, Zürich