The University of Texas at Dallas has announced a gift of four hundred Swiss paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the Barrett Collection Foundation.
The single largest gift ever to UTD, the Barrett Collection was created by Richard Barrett and his late wife, Nona, and is considered the largest and finest private collection of Swiss art ever assembled. With works dating from the late fourteenth through mid-twentieth centuries, the collection includes important pieces by every major artist born in Switzerland, from Caspar Wolf (1735-1788), the first painter of the Swiss Alps, to Cuno Amiet (1868-1961). To be housed in a new Barrett Museum to be built on the UTD campus, the collection will extend the vision of the university's Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History and expand the role of the arts across the university.
Richard and Nona Barrett started the collection in the 1990s when they learned that, outside of Switzerland, Swiss art was widely unknown, underappreciated, and undervalued. Since Nona's death in 2014, Richard and his present wife, Luba, have continued to expand the collection, which has been on view at major art institutions around the world, including the Tate Britain, Kunsthaus Zurich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Musée d'Orsay, among others. Representative works in the collection include St. Hubert and St. Catherine of Alexandria, by "Swiss Carnation Master" (c. 1490, oil on panel); Portrait of the Empress Maria Theresa, by Jean-Etienne Liotard (1762, pastel on vellum); View across Lake Seeberg to the Muntigalm, by Wolf (1778, oil on canvas); and Self-Portrait (1921, oil on canvas) and Portrait of Anne Amiet with Red Background, by Amiet (1913, oil on canvas). In addition to the works in the collection, UTD will receive funding from the Barrett Collection Foundation for future acquisitions, including works by post-WWII and contemporary Swiss artists.
"The creation of a museum with a collection of this breadth and depth of Swiss art at its core is unprecedented in the United States," said O'Donnell Institute founding director Richard Brettell. "But bringing this collection to a major research university makes the significance of the gift even greater. The focus and range of the Barrett Collection will spark many new dissertations, articles, and books written by our graduate students and faculty."
(Image credit: View across Lake Seeberg to the Muntigalm, Caspar Wolf, courtesy of the Barrett Collection Foundation)