Baden, Villa Langmatt. Photo/Foto:

From today´s perspective, the Langmatt villa in Baden (Kanton Aargau) in the early 20th century was one of the most important concentrations of modern art in Switzerland.

The villa belonged to the industrialist Brown family. In 1891, Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown (1863-1924) and his brother Sidney William Brown (1865-1941) joined Walter Boveri (1865-1924) to found the firm Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC).

Charles and Sidney were children of the English engineer Charles Brown (1827-1905) and the Swiss Eugenie Pfau (1845-1929). The firm flourished and soon became a multinational, known as ABB since 1988.

In 1896, Sidney married Jenny Sulzer (1871-1968). They gave rise to one of the world´s most significant private collections of impressionist and modernist art.

Around 1920, they also developed a marked interest in French art of the 18th and 19th century. They also accumulated a remarkable collection of Chinese ceramics and furniture, silver and porcelain from different epochs.

The city of Baden became the owner of the villa and its collections in 1987 and founded the Museum Langmatt in 1990.

The family’s interest was not limited to the arts. They also collected the multilingual canon of world literature, history, philosophy, literature, religion, politics, music and the fine arts.

An extensive correspondence with dealers testifies to the acquisition of magnificent volumes. Many historical photos show the family members busy with their passion and selected books reveal their inner selves.

The Showcase Archive (Schaufenster Archiv) presents for the the library and for the first time large parts of the archive. They were systematically indexed and partially digitised in 2017–18.

It contains, among other things, documents, letters, postcards, diaries and photographs from the Brown family estate.

The time frame of the documents spans the years 1850 to 1987, when John Alfred Brown died (born in 1900). He bequeathed the Villa and its rich collections to Baden.