In the heart of the centuries old city of Zurich is a most unusual restaurant, the Kronenhalle. The restaurant stands out not only for its fine cuisine but also for its collection of art by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, and Varlin to name a few. It’s a feast for your eyes as well as your palate.
Gottleib and Hulda Zumsteg purchased the Kronenhalle in 1925. The art on the restaurant’s walls started during World War II when the Kronenhalle was the gathering places for artists from all over Europe who sought refuge from the Nazis in Switzerland.
Hulda would give 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 clientel could view and purchase them. 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. Their son Gustav added to the art collection. Gustav 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.
Gustav spared no expense with the designing and decorating of the brasserie bar. The tables and lamps were designed 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. 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 vast private collection.
The affect of the Kronenhalle with its dark oak paneling, muted colors on the walls, soft lighting is stunning. In this special place while dining on fine cuisine you are surrounded by exquisite works of art.