The original building

ʻAm Römerholz̕  was built from 1915 to 1918 on a hillside site at the edge of woods for the Winterthur industrialist Jakob Heinrich Ziegler-Sulzer (1859-1930). The architect, Maurice Turrettini (1878-1932) of Geneva, based his design on the kind of urban villa developed in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century to reflect the status of traders and bankers who had become wealthy as a result of industrialisation. Major art collectors in Europe and the USA, particularly those specialising in Old Masters, followed the fashion for this type of residence. Their villas drew on a repertory of forms derived from historical styles. Turrettini employed the most popular features of this repertory for the «Am Römerholz» villa. Its simplicity echoes the bold massing of Italian Renaissance architecture. The same historical model also dominates the main interior space, whereas the small adjoining salon is couched in the style of eighteenth-century France.

Oskar Reinhart acquired the villa in 1924. A year later he commissioned Turrettini to add a picture gallery. Like the main building, the gallery survives more or less in its original form. In contrast to the smaller, lavishly furnished and decorated rooms in the villa, the gallery contains no period elements. The simple elegance of its large central space, topped by an imposing lantern that distributes light evenly, generates an aura of solemn grandeur that removes the collection from the world of everyday life. Comparable gallery architecture is to be found above all among the German collectors around 1900 who saw Impressionism as the epitome of modern art.