From 12 November 2005 to 5 February 2006, the Groninger Museum will present an exhibition entirely devoted to the collector and art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. This clergyman’s son was the most eminent founder of Dutch art history. The Groninger Museum preserves an extremely large part of the collection of Hofstede de Groot.
Besides an art historian, Hofstede de Groot was also a great art collector. As early as 1906, he donated his extremely important collection of 65 Rembrandt drawings to the Rijksprentenkabinet, the Rijksmuseum print room. After his death in 1930, a part of de Groot’s collection of 17th-century paintings and drawings was accommodated in the Groninger Museum. By donating his archives to the State of the Netherlands, he laid the basis for the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History), founded in 1932, which is the most important centre for the study of Dutch art.
De Groot had a passion for discussing ideas with colleagues. This occasionally resulted in a clash of opinion. The most well-known controversy is that with Abraham Bredius concerning the Portrait of Elisabeth Bas in the collection of the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). Bredius was convinced that this renowned painting ought to be ascribed to Rembrandt’s pupil Ferdinand Bol, a view that de Groot regarded as absolutely ridiculous. He believed the painting to be by Rembrandt. The dispute took place is extremely strong terms, each vehemently attacking the other’s character. Another affair referred to a fake Frans Hals painting, for which de Groot had issued a certificate of authenticity. This led to a notorious court case.
The Groninger Museum will primarily devote attention to Hofstede de Groot’s collection. Although the collection of the Groninger Museum will represent the backbone of the exhibition, a large number of works will be borrowed from other museums and private collectors in order to create a representative reconstruction of de Groot’s collection.
The catalogue for the exhibition is a standard work on Hofstede de Groot. The publication includes contributions by Rudi Ekkart (director of the RKD), Volker Manuth (University of Nijmegen), and Henk van Veen (University of Groningen); price €38.
Symposium Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, 18 November 2005 in the Groninger Museum