Helene Kröller-Müller began collecting art in around 1905. The idea arose when she and her daughter enrolled in a course in art appreciation that was taught by H.P. Bremmer, an educator in the arts. Inspired by his lessons, she began collecting art herself. In 1907 she made her first purchase: ‘Train in Landscape’, by Paul Gabriel.
By this time Bremmer was visiting her at home every week and even began serving as her personal advisor. In the company of the couple, but also frequently at their orders, he visited national and international auction houses, studios and art dealers, searching for work that suited the collection.
Helene Kröller-Müller’s collection grew rapidly. After a few years she was the owner of the largest private Van Gogh collection in the world (not counting that of the Van Gogh family itself). During her lifetime, Helene Kröller-Müller purchased approximately 11,500 art objects.
Besides H.P. Bremmer, the architect Henry van de Velde also served as an advisor to the Kröllers. It was he who alerted Helene Kröller-Müller of the opportunity to buy the work ‘Le Chahut’ by Georges Seurat in 1922. It was her last major purchase.
Wm. H. Müller & Co., the Kröller’s firm, was hard hit by the economic recession. The situation became so dire that both the country estate on the Hoge Veluwe and the art collection were threatened. To keep the collection together, Helene Kröller-Müller presented it to the Dutch state in 1935 on the condition that an appropriate museum be built to house it.