Switzerland possesses some of the finest of the smaller art collections in Europe. There is no Louvre here and no Uffizi, but several Courtauld Institutes and Burrell Collections. More than in most countries the cultural map has been formed during the last hundred years by the devotion to art of wealthy industrialists and men of commerce. There were no kings and princes in Switzerland to lay the foundations of the present-day collections. With a long tradition of relative autonomy and self-sufficiency the cities and cantons have also played a part in creating the current magnificent public art collections.
While artists who were Swiss or who lived in Switzerland are of course amply represented (including Holbein, Fuseli, Hodler, Klee and Giacometti), the whole gamut of western art is to be seen here, with the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists particularly prominent. An added attraction is architectural: some of the collections remain in the collectors’ former homes and others have recently been re-housed in brilliant new buildings. And when aesthetic exhaustion sets in there are lakes and mountains and picturesque old cities to refresh the palate.
Fly from London Heathrow to Zurich at c. 9.30am. Drive to Winterthur to visit the Oskar Reinhart Collection ‘am Römerholz’ at the collector’s home in tranquil woodland above the city, a marvellous display of Old Masters and Impressionists. Continue to Lucerne for the first of two nights
Baden, Zurich. In the morning drive to Baden where, in a 1900 villa, the Langmatt Foundation displays a fine collection, especially of Impressionists (including twenty-four Renoirs). The afternoon is spent in Zurich. Visit two churches that have stained glass by Chagall and Alberto Giacometti. The Kunsthaus Zurich is Switzerland’s largest art gallery, displaying Swiss and international art from the Middle Ages to the present day. Overnight Lucerne.
Lucerne, Basel-Riehen, Basel. Lucerne, at the juncture of mountains, rivers and lake, has a most attractive historic centre with mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. The Sammlung Rosengart is an excellent collection of 20th-century art, particularly strong on Picasso and Klee. Drive to Basel via Basel-Riehen where the Beyeler Foundation has a top quality collection of classic modern art in a stunning building by Renzo Piano. First of two nights in Basel.
Basel, Berne. All-day excursion: with its promontory setting and arcaded streets, Berne is perhaps the most attractive city in Switzerland. The purpose-built Paul Klee Centre (Renzo Piano) houses a huge collection of the artist’s works, and the Kunstmuseum has a good and varied collection of western art. Overnight Basel.
Basel. Walk via the mediaeval minster to the Kunstmuseum, an excellent collection notable for paintings by one-time resident Hans Holbein. Some free time to explore the lovely old centre, the Historical Museum (furniture, tapestries, silver), Museum of Contemporary Art or the Tinguely Museum. Fly from Basel, arriving Heathrow c. 6.45pm. Participants joining Walking the Rhine Valley meet their group for lunch and attend the concert at 5.30pm. Those joining The Rhine Valley Music Festival, attend the first concert that afternoon at 3.30pm, with luggage transferred to the ship.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,130 or £1,920 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,340 or £2,130 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus 320); travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts; 1 lunch and 3 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Romantik Hotel Wilden Mann, Lucerne: 4-star hotel dating back to the 13th century located in the heart of the historic town centre. All double rooms in the hotel have two single mattresses on one bed frame, as is the usual style in Switzerland. Hotel Teufelhof, Basel: located in Basel’s historic centre, this 3-star hotel is housed in two integrated, historic townhouses from the 18th century. Rooms are decorated in a minimalist style and are fitted with all mod cons.
As you would expect this tour involves a reasonable amount of walking through town centres and standing around in galleries. Average distance by coach per day: 70 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.
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