Dr. Emil S. Kern (born 1914)

In 1998 the City of Winterthur received the important bequest of the Emil S. Kern Miniature Portrait Collection. The collector, Dr. Emil S. Kern (born 1914 in Bülach), established himself in 1947 as a young doctor in Horgen, where two years later he acquired a magnificent half-timbered house built in 1737, the so-called Agentenhaus. Today it houses an outstanding collection of 18th century porcelain from Zurich, which, together with European furnishings and arts and crafts from the 16th century to the 19th century, and painting, prints and drawings from the 15th century to the 20th century, forms a private museum of sophisticated home décor. (Agentenhaus Horgen, Seestrasse 175, 8810 Horgen, Tel. 01 722 15 35).

Concentrating on its development in England, France, Switzerland and Austria, these 600 or more miniatures painted in gouache or enamel offer a wonderful perspective on European portrait art from the 16th century to the 19th century. They grant a representative overview of this genre's development as almost all of the significant painters are represented by principle works. The Emil S. Kern Bequest easily stands up to comparison with larger collections around the world such as the Louvre in Paris, the Wallace Collection in London or the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Dr. Emil S. Kern, who generously bequeathed to the City of Winterthur a major part of his life's work, has collected miniature portraits with great dedication and professional knowledge during the past fifty years. Through his contacts with leading academics, museums and art dealers he selectively acquired works that are remarkable for their high quality and perfect state of preservation. His interest was especially directed toward pieces that show strong characterisation of facial expressions. The Collection also reveals the varying eras and fashion trends in art itself based on how people are depicted.