Local History

Entrance of the Barbier-Mueller Museum. Photo: www.barbier-mueller.ch

A Mecenas from Geneva

Josef Mueller was born in 1887 in Solothurn. At 20 years of age he made his way to Paris where he met the famous art dealer, Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). He acquired paintings by Cézanne and put together a collection with extraordinary rapidity that, as early as 1918, included seven works by Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, Braque and many other prestigious painters.

He also had a clear interest in the works of antiquity. The purity of line, the sobriety of form, and the apparent modernity of third-millennium Cycladic statuettes had already captivated artists such as Henry Moore, Max Bill and Alberto Giacometti. His son-in-law Jean-Paul Barbier was also an enthusiastic collector and the two collections did finally merge.

The pieces are ambassadors of civilizations as varied as the Cyclades, Predynastic and Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome and ‘primitive’ art from other continents. The Barbier-Mueller Museum opened its doors in May, 1977. The collection assembles 7000 works of art. This constitutes one of the greatest collections of primitive art in the world. The Museum publishes new material to accompany its exhibitions throughout the world, so far in about 100 museums in just 37 years. (Source and further information: www.barbier-mueller.ch).