Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces: The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation Collection of Basel, Switzerland

Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces: The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation Collection of Basel, Switzerland

October 5, 1997 to January 11, 1998

The first American showing of 26 Impressionist and modern paintings from The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation of Basel, Switzerland, was seen only at the Kimbell Art Museum from October 5, 1997, through January 11, 1998, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Museum’s public opening in 1972.

Constituting a tribute to one of Europe’s pioneer collectors of modern art as well as complementing the permanent holdings of the Kimbell Art Museum, the loan featured Paul Gauguin’s supreme masterpiece Nafea Faaipoipo (When Will You Marry?), 1892, as well as highly important works by Vincent van Gogh (Daubigny’s Garden, 1890), and Paul Cézanne (Glass and Apples, 1879–82).

Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces: The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation Collection of Basel, Switzerland also included six Pissarro paintings surveying the career of the master; important portraits by Manet, Renoir, and van Gogh; major early works by Gauguin and Cezanne; a vibrantly colored late Degas bather; and an open-air oil study executed by Camille Corot on his first trip to Italy.

The great Swiss master Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) was also represented, with two Alpine views and a series of three works exploring the theme of sickness and death. Hodler’s inclusion served to establish him as an artist of international stature in the context of his better-known French contemporaries as well as to represent the integral role played by contemporary Swiss painting in the formation of the vision and taste of the founder of the collection, Rudolf Staechelin (1881–1946).

Mr. Staechelin, a successful businessman, assembled his collection during the First World War (principally 1917–18) and in the early postwar years and served as an advisor to the Kunstmuseum Basel (Museum of Fine Arts). As has been noted, “Rudolf Staechelin began to collect early in life, and stopped collecting early as well . . . No other art collector had such an instinctive capacity to sight quality in a picture at first glance.”

After the collector’s death, his son Peter, in the late 1940s and early 50s, placed the core of the collection on long-term loan in the Kunstmuseum Basel, where it has remained. A much noted international event occurred in 1967 when the citizens of Basel voted to acquire two Picassos from the Staechelin collection, for which Picasso was so grateful that he himself donated four more of his paintings to the city of Basel.

Ruedi Staechelin, grandson of the collector and president of the Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation, commented about the loan to the Kimbell:

“I am extremely pleased to be able to share the collection of my family with the people of Texas. I am convinced that the population of Fort Worth/Dallas and hopefully many visitors from further away will enjoy seeing the French and Swiss paintings, many of which have never been shown in the U.S. I am certain that the collection will sparkle in the beautiful galleries of Louis Kahn’s great museum.”

Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, director of the Kimbell Art Museum, commented: “We are honored to be able to share these great works with our visitors and are confident the exposure will make the individual works better known worldwide.”

Works from the Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation were initially shown as part of this special exhibition and subsequently interspersed with the Kimbell’s own permanent collection for a period of three years to further the Kimbell’s educational mission of promoting a greater appreciation of art through works of definitive excellence.

All images are copyright The Rudolph Staechelin Family Foundation; any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by international law.

Caption: Vincent van Gogh, Daubigny's Garden (detail), 1890, oil on canvas. The Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation Collection, Basel, Switzerland