The Kröller-Müller Museum has bought eight philosophers stones at a large
auction of Chinese art in New York (September 2002). The entire EUR 100,000
cost of the stones was financed by the SponsorBingo Lottery. Philosophers stones originated in China. They are naturally formed objects,
not cultivated by man. The collecting of philosophers stones began during
the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) when Chinese scholars discovered their
aesthetic and spiritual qualities. They kept the stones in the rarefied
atmosphere of their studios and used them as an aid to meditation, a
guideline and a source of inspiration and enlightenment.
The stones symbolised the universe in microcosm and the selection of a stone
was a highly personal affair. Natural aspects such as form, colour, texture
and material played a crucial role, but the stones expression was also
important in strengthening the owners character.
The Kröller-Müller Museum bought three philosophers stones in 2001. At
first glance, these ancient Chinese artefacts may not appear to fit within
the acquisitions policy of the museum, which is best known for modern and
contemporary art. However, Helene Kröller-Müllers collection was
characterised by an extremely broad and humanistic view of art and culture.
In addition to late nineteenth-century French and Dutch paintings, she also
bought Chinese and Japanese artefacts. This approach has been continued by
the museum, which has an extraordinary collection of non-western artefacts,
selected for their artistic value and their importance for the collection.
Although philosophers stones belong to a different culture and period, they
possess qualities that are also found in western abstract art. The two are
bound by a deep personal appreciation of form and colour and a
non-prescriptive setting which allows the viewer to form his or her own
interpretation. The philosophers stones unite two essential aspects of the
Kröller-Müller Museums collection: culture and nature. Placing the stones
on a plinth isolates and emphasises their extraordinary formal qualities.
Previous Kröller-Müller Museum acquisitions supported by the SponsorBingo
Lottery include: Miroslaw Balka, 200 x 238 x 590, Ø 19 x 16 (fontein)
(1995/2001); Tom Claassen, 18 Liggende houten mannen (2000); Hermann Maier
Neustadt, WD-Spiral Part One Cinema (2001) and two sculptures by Rudi van de
Wint, View (2002) and Beeld (1997/2001); Constantin Brancusi Tête denfant
endormi (1908); Isaac Israels, De schermles (1886); Bart van der Leck,
Compositie met grijze streep (1956-1958). The acquisition of this last work
was financed by the SponsorBingo Lottery (60%) and the Mondriaan Foundation
The SponsorBingo Lottery was established as the Nationale Sponsor Loterij in
1989 by the Stichting Fondsen Promoties and transferred to the Nationale
Postcode Loterij in April 1998. To date it has donated approximately EUR 100
million (60% of its gross income) to twenty-four sports, culture and health