Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Koerfer, Dr. Jacques C.
Cologne, 1902–Ascona, Switzerland, 1990

Dr. Jacques C. Koerfer was a successful entrepreneur who began collecting art in the early 1930s. The core of his collection was assembled between 1957 and 1989, when Koerfer and his second wife, Christina, were living in Switzerland. 

Initially, Koerfer was interested in the work of Dutch masters like Pieter de Hooch, Philips Wouwerman, and Antonis Mor, but he later developed a fondness for French Impressionist and post-Impressionist painting as well as modern and contemporary art. The Koerfers acquired their first Cubist painting, George Braque’s Bottle of Rum (1912), in 1953, probably from Galerie Max Kaganovitch in Paris. A passion for collecting Cubist works quickly developed and by 1989 the couple had acquired another still life by Braque, a papier collé by Juan Gris titled The Lamp (1914), a large painting and watercolor by Fernand Léger, and two major canvases by Pablo Picasso, including Still Life with Fan: “L’Indépendant” (1911; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection). The last major painting purchased by the Koerfers was Léger’s Composition (The Typographer) (1918–19; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection). 

Until the mid-1960s, the Koerfers lived in what is known as the Rothaus in Bolligen near Bern. In 1963 they commissioned the Hungarian-born and Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer to design a modern complex on a hillside near Ascona, Switzerland, overlooking Lago Maggiore. Completed in 1966, the secluded building served as a home for the family as well as the Koerfers’ growing art collection. 

At the time of his death in 1990, the Koerfers’ highly regarded and diverse collection included at least seventy-two objects. The couple had sold a group of thirty-two works at Sotheby’s London on June 27, 1977. Their heirs sold some of the remaining works at Christie’s New York in two consecutive sales in 1995 and 1998.

Contributed by Luise Mahler, January 2015
For more information, see:
Bauquier, Georges, ed. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Le catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. Vol. 1, 1903–1919. Paris: Adrien Maeght Éditeur, 1990. 

Butterfield, Andrew. The Jacques Koerfer Collection. London: Christie’s, 1999. 

Cooper, Douglas, and Margaret Potter. Juan Gris: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. 2 vols. Paris: Berggruen Éditeur, 1977.

Daix, Pierre, and Joan Rosselet. Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907–1916. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979. 

Gasser, Manuel. “Bilder aus einer Privatsammlung.” Du 34 (December 1974): 12–37. 

Lindsay, Véra , ed. Auge und Vision: Die Sammlung Jacques Koerfer. Basel: Werner and Bischoff, 1972. 

Worms de Romilly, Nicole, and Jean Laude. Braque: Cubism, 1907–1914. Paris: Maeght, 1982.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection formerly owned by Koerfer:
Composition (The Typographer)
Composition (The Typographer) Fernand Léger
Still Life with Fan: "L'Indépendant"
Still Life with Fan: "L'Indépendant" Pablo Picasso
Céret, summer 1911