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Antiquities From the Collection of Dr. Heinrich Medicus, Troy, New York

Dr. Heinrich Medicus was a cultivated Swiss collector who was raised in an artistic and intellectually curious family. His family was close to the Giacometti clan and Heinrich’s father purchased many paintings by Giovanni and Giovanni’s cousin, Augusto. In addition to these pieces, Dr. Medicus’ eclectic art collection also included works by Redon, Braque, Chagall, Moore, Corot, Cassatt, Rembrandt and the Swiss artist, Cuno Amiet.

Dr. Medicus was educated in Zurich and received his doctorate in nuclear physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He travelled to the United States in the 1950’s on a fellowship to conduct research at the University of California, Berkeley and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1955 he joined the faculty of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy where he remained until his retirement.



Top row: Lot 524 and Lot 537
Bottom row: Lot 554, Lot 552, and Lot 541

Dr. Medicus formed a diverse collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Renaissance, Continental baroque and modern art and artifacts over his lifetime. His home was indeed eclectic, furnished with Danish modern and Swiss Baroque furniture, decorated with ancient, baroque and modern bronzes, and the walls hung with master works, and medieval stained glass.

Dr. Medicus was a very generous philanthropist. He donated his entire Egyptian collection to The Albany Institute of History and Art (which doubled their collection!), and gave sizeable donations to both the Albany Symphony and to St. Peter’s Health Partner’s in Troy.

Stair is pleased to offer Dr. Heinrich Medicus’ fine Greek and Roman collections at auction on April 28th and 29th. His collection spans the early years of the Cycladic, Mycenean and Hellenistic civilizations to the Etruscan, Apulian and Roman cultures. The collection favors Greek red attic vases, with the best example being a large column krater used for mixing water with wine. Also favorites of his were a Roman bronze model of Aphrodite that was formerly in the Louis de Clercq Collection, an early Roman bronze figure of Hermes, an Etruscan mirror with an equine-headed handle initially offered at Sotheby’s in 1987, and a life-sized Greek marble bust of a Goddess, originally purchased in 1999. We hope you will love the grandeur of his collections and the beauty of his collector’s eye, as much as we do. See you at the auction!



by Suzanne Kawola

“I met Heinrich in a coffee shop. We were both escaping the power outages in our neighborhoods due to an early December ice storm.

At that time, I was a freelance photographer and he had just turned 90 years old. He was on his way to a concert and I was catching up on work. He started a conversation about my art and then offered me an extra ticket to the concert. The ticket would have been for his recently deceased wife, Hildegard. He wasn’t lonely. He missed Hildegard but accepted his loss. He never wanted good art to go to waste. Leaving that concert seat unfilled was a waste in Heinrich’s mind.

From that day on we formed a friendship.

I was first introduced to Heinrich’s art collection on a Saturday afternoon that Spring. He asked me over for tea. My jaw was agape at the sheer volume of works in his medium sized home. Paintings, drawings and sculptures consumed most of the perimeter of the living and dining room.

What some might wrongly assume about such an accumulation, as I did, before I witnessed his daily relationship with it, Heinrich did not amass art for investment or ego. He had an emotional and intellectual connection to his art. For him art was a relationship between the artist’s mind and emotions and that of the observers. Of the times I questioned his choices, his answer was always some version of this. He certainly reveled in a conversation about culture, origin and aesthetic, but the deeper relational viewpoint of his collecting was the most pronounced reason he collected. Heinrich approached each artist expression as his unique perspective of their humanity.

His collecting was never proprietary. He saw himself as the temporary guardian. Heinrich’s plans for his art were always to put it back into the world, so each piece could connect to someone else with, hopefully, the same integrity.”

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