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Art and politics Blocher puts art collection on display

Christoph Blocher describes the painting 'Veillard et deux enfants' (left) by Swiss painter Albert Anker

Christoph Blocher describes the painting "Veillard et deux enfants" (left) by Swiss painter Albert Anker

(Keystone / Valentin Flauraud)

Christoph Blocher, one of Switzerland’s best-known politicians, is exhibiting 127 pieces from his vast art collection at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny.

The billionaire industrialist – and former government minister for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, the country’s largest political party - has amassed a treasure trove of Swiss masterpieces, much of it from the 19th century, which celebrates Swiss rural life, folklore and the country’s epic countryside.

Blocher has been the party’s dominant figure since the late 1980s. Under his leadership, the party lurched to the right, adopting an anti-European Union, anti-foreigner line and notching up a series of electoral successes. 

+ Read our interview with Blocher about his EU views here

Blocher became party vice president from 2008 when he was ousted from the cabinet; in 2016 he took over the party strategist role, a role that he relinquished in 2018.

+Blocher steps down as People's Party strategist

As the majority owner of polymers and chemicals maker EMS Chemie, Blocher has accumulated a fortune of CHF11 billion ($11.03 billion), some of which he has ploughed into his collection.

Among the works on displayexternal link are Ferdinand Hodler's "Retreat from Marignano," depicting the 1515 battlefield defeat, a key point in Swiss history, and some of Hodler’s expressionist mountainscapes, Albert Anker's scenes of rural life are also represented. In 2015, Blocher paid CHF4.2 million for Anker's "Wine Festival", painted in 1865, at an auction in Zurich.

The 127 pieces will be on show at the Fondation Pierre Gianaddaexternal link until June 2020.

Reuters/swissinfo.ch/ilj

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