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.