Emil Bührle's Collection
 
Dmitri Kessel, Emil Bührle in his collection, 1954
© gettyimages
The art collection of Emil Georg Bührle (1890-1956), a Zurich industrialist, is among the most important 20th-century private collections of European art. French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism constitute the core of the collection. Around these works is an ensemble of 19th-century French art that paved the way for Impressionism or developed alongside it. In the other direction, the core collection opens out onto the Nabis, Fauves, Cubists and other representatives of the French avant-garde after 1900. The collection is rounded off by sections devoted to earlier periods, in particular Dutch painting of the 17th and Italian painting of the 16th to 18th centuries and a group of Gothic wood sculptures. Emil Bührle acquired most of his pictures and sculptures between 1951 and 1956. The central theme of the collection is the gradual evolution of a new artistic freedom from Impressionism onwards as the driving force behind Modernist painting in the 20th century. His acquisitions also indirectly reflected changes in the contemporary art scene of the early 1950's in that they included important examples of what by this time was the historic avant-garde of the early 20th century. In 1960, the collector's family placed a representative selection of about 200 pictures and sculptures in a foundation and opened it to the public. The Foundation's museum is housed in a villa adjoining Emil Bührle's former home, which Bührle had used to store part of his collection during his lifetime.