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"A Passion for Collecting"
2001-12-15 until 2002-02-17
Entitled A Passion for Collecting, the exhibition gathers well over a hundred masterpieces of drawing from all over the world, that were once the prized possessions of Dutch collectors. Drawings by masters such as Dürer, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Ostade, Watteau, and many others exemplify the wealth and scope of the collections brought together by Dutch art lovers during the 18th century.
Organized in conjunction with the Fondation Custodia, the exhibition will travel to Paris after its Haarlem showing. It is accompanied by a richly illustrated publication, whose author, Michiel C. Plomp, Assistant Curator of Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is a recognized authority on the subject.
In the 18th century, the Dutch Republic counted many collectors who amassed spectacular groups of master drawings, often numbering thousands of sheets. Famous collectors such as Lambert ten Kate, Jan Pietersz. Zomer and Cornelis Ploos van Amstel, as well as their many lesser-known
colleagues, acquired works of art on paper on a large scale, at a high and internationally acclaimed level. The fact that, in those days, Holland was the centre of the international art market enabled them to indulge their passion for collecting to the full: many first-rate foreign collections were brought to Amsterdam to be auctioned. The golden age of Dutch collecting lasted until the 1830s.
Of these once-splendid collections, little remains in the Netherlands, since most were sold after their owner’s death. Only two existing collections can trace their origins to the 18th century: they are those formed by Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702-1778), now incorporated into the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, and by Frans J.O. Boijmans (1767-1825), which became the nucleus of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In all too many cases, all that is left of 18th-century collections is the sale catalogue. The exhibition A Passion for Collecting temporarily reunites many of the artistic treasures on paper that once formed the pride of their Dutch owners. In addition, the exhibition focuses on the collectors themselves, their interests and tastes, as well as on the ways in which they acquired, stored and displayed the master drawings they treasured.