ZURICH—At Sotheby’s Zurich on May 31, a painting by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler, Am Genfer See—Landschaftlicher Formenrhythmus (At the Lake of Geneva—Rhythm of Forms in a Landscape), 1908, fetched CHF 4.95 million ($4.1 million) a new artist’s record (ANL, 6/6/06).
The painting, an important example of Switzerland’s modern art movement at the beginning of the 20th century, was bought by Richard and Nona Barrett of Dallas, Texas, who were accompanied by Markus Schöb, a Swiss art expert formerly with Christie’s Switzerland and now director of Zurich’s Galerie Widmer.
The Barretts—deemed “astute collectors” by Edmund P. Pillsbury, director of the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas—have become well-known at high-level Swiss auctions. The couple began collecting works by regional Texas artists in the early 1980s, among them Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, Julian Onderdonk and Frank Reaugh.
Soon after, the Barretts realized the number of stylistic and artistic links of these artists to other European artists, particularly Czech and Swiss modernists of the 20th century. Currently they hold one of the most important collections of Swiss art outside Europe, one they continually expand.
The collection includes works by late-19th- and early-20th-century modernists from German, French and Italian sections of Switzerland, including Cuno Amiet, Giovanni Giacometti (father of Alberto), Hodler and Félix Vallotton. The Barretts’ collection was recently presented to the public at the Meadows Museum in an exhibition entitled “Texas Vision: The Barrett Collection—The Art of Texas and Switzerland” (November 2004-January 2005).
CHRISTIAN VON FABER-CASTELL