Private collection Villa Flora at Museum Marmottan Monet Paris

The Museum Marmottan Monet, presents the most prestigious private collection of the Swiss couple Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser from 10 September 2015 until 7 Februay 2016. For the first time in France the masterpieces of this ensemble are exhibited.

Édouard Vuillard – Le Vase bleu – circa 1932

75 works of art by Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Giovanni Giacometti, Ferdinand Hodler, Aristide Maillol, Édouard Manet, Henri-Charles Manguin, Pierre-Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse, Odilon Redon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Félix-Édouard Vallotton, Vincent van Gogh and Édouard Vuillard and others illustrate the story of the two passionated collectors of paintings, drawings and sculptures.

Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler and their house Villa Flora

In 1898, Hedy Buhler (1873-1952) purchased the Villa Flora. Just after her wedding, she moved in this conventional house, near the old town of Winterthur in Switserland, with her husband Arthur Hahnloser (1870-1936). Their house became a place of encounter, exchange, and creation, both a haven and a studio for painters and art lovers. During a period of thirty years, the walls of their home became covered with paintings. Each room, and even the bathroom with its accumulation of still lifes, contains its share of artworks.

Garden Villa Flora with Skulptur of Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) the Summer, 1910, Bronze
Salon and library, fotography Peter Engeler, Winterthur

Still life paintings and their Villa Flora story

The exhibition contains many flower and nature releated paintings. Below you will find a selection of these paintings, each with their own story at the Villa Flora. The Hahnloser collection is notable for a remarkable number of still lifes, reflecting their highly developed artistic sensibility and unusually bold approach.

Odilon Redon, The dream, circa 1908 Photo Reto Pedrini, Zürich

The dream – Odilon Redon
The works of Odilon Redon quickly became a prominent part of Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser’s collection. The collectors went to meet him in Paris in 1913 and acquired The dream from the dealer Jos Hessel. This mysterious composition was nevertheless reworked by the artist, who heightened the plastic presence of the flowers. It may be that the idea of combining the female profile and garland of flowers came from a painting by Millet, whom Redon greatly admired.

Odilon Redon, Anemones, circa 1912 Photo Reto Pedrini, Zürich

Anemones – Odilon Redon
Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser probably saw the still life Anemones in Redon’s Parisian studio, when they visited in 1913. They purchased the work directly from the artist. Here he deploys all the magic of his colours. The black, chalice-like bowl seems to hover over the table, which is no more than suggested. The bouquet assembles red, blue and white anemones which, with the leaves, constitute a rounded form. The precise rendering of the flowers attests Redon’s interest in botany, whereas the abstract ground made up of interlocking shapes in hazy mauve, yellow and orange betrays his poetic inclinations. Seeing such a composition, we can see why Redon was nicknamed “the Mallarmé of painting.”

Vincent Van Gogh, Le Semeur, 1888
Vincent Van Gogh, The sower, 1888

The sower – Vincent van Gogh
For Hedy Hahnloser, Van Gogh was an “intermediary between the sensorial worlds of the North and the South.” In around 1912 the couple bought several works from the painter’s early period, but the sower entered the collection only later, by indirect channels. This admirable painting from 1888 was purchased in 1920 by Hans Hahnloser (the collectors’ son) at an auction in Amsterdam, and entered the collection of Emil Hahnloser, Arthur’s brother, a rich businessman based in Egypt who was also a patron of the arts. At his death in 1940 several remarkable works he possessed entered the collection of Arthur and Hedy.

Aloès à Cassis
Henri Manguin, The Aloes in bloom, 1912

The aloes in bloom – Henri Manguin
In spring 1914, Arthur Hahnloser came back to Winterthur with the aloes in bloom, which he had acquired when visiting Manguin’s studio in Paris. The work is a homage to the South of France, a region well known and appreciated by the Hahnlosers, who made frequent stays in Cannes. Manguin himself travelled regularly to Saint-Tropez, where he rented a villa and met up with his artist friends. He painted the agaves and rocky coasts several times. His enthusiasm for Mediterranean landscapes was shared with several fellow artists, such as Georges Braque and Othon Friesz.

Auguste Renoir, Dahlias, 1918 Photo Reto Pedrini, Zürich

Dahlias – Auguste Renoir
More than any other Impressionist artist, Renoir was a master of the still life. Freedom of touch combined with an almost incandescent exaltation of colour. Seeing a late still life such as Bouquet of dahlias, it’s easy to understand the passion felt for this painter by the Hahnlosers. They acquired some marvellous canvases by Renoir, especially small-format pieces. The artist was very popular at the international market, and in order to find more or less affordable works at Vollard or Durand-Ruel, they sought the help of their precious advisers Manguin and Vallotton. Renoir was also a significant figure for the couple because of his influence on Bonnard and Vuillard.

Édouard Vuillard, Roses rouges et étoffes sur une table, 1900-1901 Photo Reto Pedrini, Zürich
Édouard Vuillard, Red roses and a cloth on a table, 1900-1901

Red Roses and a Cloth on a Table – Édouard Vuillard
The Hahnlosers bought this work at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery, Lausanne, in 1918. It fitted perfectly into their collection, which was rich in poetically resonant still lifes. The painting shows how deeply Vuillard had assimilated the poetry of Odilon Redon, and the skill with which he handled allusion and suggestion, as understood by Mallarmé. If he put the red roses in a vase decorated with a mosaic of delicate tones, his aim was to create a composition with magical resonance. In this painting, still shaped by the Nabi aesthetic, Vuillard shares Bonnard and Vallotton’s interest in Japanese art, in which the principle of central perspective is set aside in favour of multiple viewpoints that stimulate mobility of the gaze.

The Provençal Jug
The Provençal Jug, 1930

The provençal Jug – Pierre Bonnard
One day, Hedy Hahnloser offered Bonnard a luminous bouquet of irises and marigolds. He put it in a Provençal pot and painted it. Visiting her friend in Le Cannet some time later, Hedy realised that he had represented the flowers in their withered state. He explained that this was precisely what had fascinated him in the subject, because what he was trying to make visible in his paintings was the ephemeral nature of things and the passing of time. Bonnard’s work occupies the interval between abandon to the present moment and the memory that this moment rouses. It confirms his conviction that art can suspend time.

Source / Practical information

3 Comments Add yours

  1. BunKaryudo says:

    Sadly, I’m nowhere near the museum, but it does seem like a wonderful exhibition and one I’d love to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi BunKaryudo, unfortunately the Museum Marmottan is not around my corner either, but I plan to visit the Paris and the museum in December. I will let you know how it was!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BunKaryudo says:

        Thank you. I’ll bet it will be a wonderful experience. 🙂


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