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Dr. Raoul Albert La Roche

Basel, 1889–Basel, 1965

Dr. Raoul Albert La Roche was a Swiss banker who moved to Paris in 1911 and established friendships with the co-founders of Purism: the Swiss architect Le Corbusier and the French artist Amédée Ozenfant. In Paris, he amassed an important collection of Purist and Cubist works.

The core of La Roche’s collection was assembled between 1921 and 1928, with Ozenfant and Le Corbusier acting as his advisors and agents. In 1928 the holdings comprised roughly 160 works, including Cubist examples by Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. Many of the works were purchased at the sales of two sequestered art holdings—those of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1921 and Wilhelm Uhde in 1923.

Eventually, La Roche became a regular client of Galerie L’Effort Moderne. Through its owner, Léonce Rosenberg, he accumulated a collection of twenty-eight Gris still lifes, all of which date between 1915 and 1920. He also acquired Purist paintings by Ozenfant and Le Corbusier and Cubist sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz.

Beginning in 1925, La Roche displayed his collection at his Parisian residence (known as Villa La Roche-Jeanneret) located at 8-10, square du Docteur-Blanche, in the suburb of Auteuil. It was designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret between 1923 and 1925 as a duplex for La Roche and Le Corbusier’s brother Albert Jeanneret. The architect’s aim was to establish formal connections between the architecture and the Purist and Cubist paintings and sculpture in La Roche’s collection.

In a series of bequests made in 1953, 1956, and 1963, La Roche donated a large portion of his holdings to Kunstmuseum Basel. He also gave works to the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon; and Kunsthaus Zürich. In 1959 he formally promised his house in Paris to Le Corbusier for the purposes of housing Fondation Le Corbusier, an organization that oversees the conservation, research, and popularization of the architect’s work.

For more information, see:

Ein Haus für den Kubismus: Die Sammlung Raoul La Roche: Picasso, Braque, Léger, Gris—Le Corbusier und Ozenfant. Basel: Kunstmuseum; Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje, 1998.

Haldemann, Anita, and Nina Zimmer. “Picasso and Basel.” In The Picassos Are Here! A Retrospective from Basel Collections. Ostfildern : Hatje Cantz, 2013.

How to cite this entry:
Jozefacka, Anna, "Dr. Raoul Albert La Roche," The Modern Art Index Project (January 2015), Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Violin: "Mozart Kubelick", Georges Braque  French, Oil on canvas
Paris, spring 1912
Student with a Newspaper, Pablo Picasso  Spanish, Plaster, oil, Conté crayon, and sand on canvas
Paris, late 1913–early 1914