Slide The George Whyte collection mainly consists of studios
bought after artist's deaths through their families or at
auctions based mainly in France. Together with the art,
George Whyte could sometimes buy archives that
completed the ensembles.
About the
Collection
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The George Whyte collection mainly consists of studios bought after artist’s deaths through their families or at auctions based mainly in France. Together with the art, George Whyte could sometimes buy archives that completed the ensembles. Most of the artists are French and spent their life in France. They were almost all born at the end of the 19th century and were active during the 1st half of the 20th Century. Some of the artists such as Greuell, Pospolitaki and Slom were born in foreign countries but then moved to France to study and continued to work there.

It took George Whyte 5 to 10 years to collect the art in the 1960-1970s and the collection was then stored at the freeport in Geneva.

To understand and justify the aesthetic choices made by Georges Whyte, it is important to consider all criteria that bring together this group of artists. First of all, a common interest in nature and its dierent modes of representation (this is not only the case for the “French Naturalists” but for almost all of the artists). At their time, these painters were already haunted by the gradual disappearance of landscapes for the benefit of industrialisation. In a way their vocation as landscape painter was also probably born out of this concern. This is explained by the devastation caused by the crazy fast growing of cities, a movement that began in the early nineteenth century, with dierences depending on the countries. Switzerland and France, at a similar time, around the 1850s, were aected by this phenomenon. On both sides of the border, these painters therefore tried to paint authentic landscapes that were about to disappear. The concerns of the collected painters were the same as those who were active by lake Geneva and in the Swiss Alps. One can name artists such as Ferdinand Hodler or Ernest Biéler who are contemporaries of these painters.

Slide

They enjoyed real notoriety during their lifetime responding to public orders, exhibiting in major salons in Paris or exporting their paintings to universal and international exhibitions. The most famous Parisian merchants of the 20th century were the first to recognize their respective talents: Berthe Weill, the Druet, Bernheim-Jeune, Georges Petit, Durand-Ruel and Lorenceau galleries.

Their artistic friendships are also very revealing of their respective merits: Gaston Balande worked alongside Albert Marquet, Victor-Ferdinand Bourgeois with Armand Guillaumin, or Paul Deltombe who collaborated almost 30 years with Paul Signac in the framework of the organization of the Salon des Indépendants.

The collection was kept private as the artists were not known at all (apart from Balande for which there were already some prices set). George hired art historians such as the Australian Lou Klepac or the English Bevis Hillier to make searches and find information about them. They could find complete studios through contacts. Some paintings were also bought at auction where there was a studio sale (“vente d’atelier”) or through adverts in the “Gazette Drouot”. They wrote little biographies and investigated in museums whether they could find works. This took a long time and George did not want to show the art before this was done.

George could not show so many works by the same artists as this would have meant an overflow on the art market. George tried to partner with David Feldman in the 80′ to promote his collection, but it did not work and George decided to lock the art for another few years. The collection however consists mainly of first works: the best paintings have been acquired to create the collection. This means that the second choice remains on the market and explains the low prices for each artist listed on databases such as Artnet or Artprice. In addition, the provenance is impeccable, the works in the collection having all been acquired from the artists themselves or from their estates.

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