Zurich Switzerland’s Kronenhalle Restaurant – dining with spectacular art

Picasso at the Kronenhalle

Picasso at the Kronenhalle

In the centuries old city of Zurich you’ll encounter an unusual and beautiful restaurant, the Kronenhalle. The restaurant stands out not only for its fine Swiss cuisine but also for its collection of art by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, and Georges Braque to name a few.

In 1921 Gottleib and Hulda Zumsteg, with their meager savings, purchased the Kronenhalle. The art on the restaurant’s walls started during the pre-World War II years when the Kronenhalle was the gathering place for artists from all over Europe who sought refuge from the Nazis in Switzerland.

Hulda gave them free meals, ‘s’Vorig vo de Riiche’….basically the remains of dishes that had been ordered, but not finished, by her rich customers. She encouraged the struggling artists to hang their work on the restaurant’s walls so that her clientele could view and perhaps purchase some. Hulda saved many an artist from starving.

The Zumstegs made the Kronenhalle known for its cuisine by employing world class chefs from Bavaria, Alsace, and Switzerland. They took the Kronenhalle from a beer hall meeting place for artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso and James Joyce to an elegant restaurant.  It was their son Gustav who developed the art collection.

In 2006 Gustav’s private art collection was sold by Christie’s Auction House for a whopping $10 million.  As reported in Bloomberg.com, in an interview at that time, Kathrin Beer, Christie’s specialist for impressionist and modern art, said “Gustav’s private collection reveals the personal relationship that Zumsteg had with famous artists such as Miro, as well as the eye of a connoisseur”.

Chagall at the Kronenhalle

Chagall at the Kronenhalle

As a young man Gustav had worked in Paris as an apprentice and designer for the silk maker Abraham.  In later years he would purchase the company.  He had an eye and knowledge for beautiful things, having that expertise made him successful in the silk business, and in the art world. In time he came to know all the right couturiers; Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. It was through them that he became friends with artists such as Chagall, Matisse, Miro and the Swiss sculptors Alberto and Diego Giacometti.

Brasserie Bar at Kronenhalle

Brasserie Bar at Kronenhalle

Gustav spared no expense with the designing and decorating of the Kronenhalle’s Brasserie Bar.  The tables and lamps were created by the Giacomettis. Gustav persuaded Chagall to design the stained glass window on the outside wall; and, he got Picasso to donate several of his sketches, one of them is a self-portrait. On the soothing dark green, purple and red walls Gustav placed art works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, Paul Klee and the Giacomettis that he took from his private collection.

The effect of the Kronenhalle with its dark oak paneling, muted colors on the walls and soft lighting is stunning. In this special place you are surrounded by exquisite works of art while dining on fine cuisine.  It is a must-do experience when in Zurich.

More Information
Restaurant Kronenhalle
Ramistrasse 4
CH-8001 Zurich
Telephone: 41 44 262 99 00
Visit Zurich

Photography courtesy: Kronenhalle Restaurant

Frances FolsomGuest writer Frances J. Folsom lives and writes in beautiful New England. She has written for many print magazines and has contributed to a range of travel guides. Frances can be reached by e-mail or through her personal blog. She lives in Cambridge Massachusetts.


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