The collection of prints in the Frits Lugt Collection in the Fondation Custodia in Paris is one of the finest amassed in the twentieth century. A Connoisseur’s Cabinet presents the first representative survey of this superb collection. More than eighty-five prints (and a few preparatory drawings) selected to reflect some of the collection’s characteristic core themes are on display. There are works by old masters such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Lucas van Leyden, Hendrick Goltzius and Rembrandt, as well as prints by nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists. The exhibition provides an overview of printmaking in all its diversity.
Frits Lugt Collection
The Frits Lugt Collection holds an extraordinary variety of drawings and prints, paintings, books and artists’ letters. The majority of the collection was put together by Frits Lugt (1884-1970), an ‘absolute enthusiast’, who as a collector and connoisseur was guided almost wholly by his instinct, taste and love of art. The collection contains virtually all Rembrandt’s graphic work. This outstanding collection of etchings, largely brought together between 1920 and 1935, is characterized by early states and exceptional impressions.
Frits Lugt was eight years old when he opened his own Museum Lugtius in his bedroom in his parents’ house. When he was sixteen he went to work for the Amsterdam auction house of Muller & Co, and in his spare time he compiled a catalogue of the Rijksprentenkabinet on his own initiative. After his marriage to Jacoba Klever (1888-1969), the daughter of a wealthy partner in the Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging (SHV), Frits Lugt found himself in a position to collect art. Lugt bought everywhere – at sales, at Sotheby’s and from dealers. After the Second World War Lugt moved to Paris with his family, believing that the art world in the Netherlands did not take him seriously because he did not have an academic background. By transferring his collection to the Fondation Custodia in 1947, Lugt ensured that it would remain intact after his death. It is still an active collection. Every acquisition serves to broaden or deepen a particular theme or the work of an artist in the collection.
This exhibition has been designed around some of the collection’s core themes. One is the portrait print, and a number of rare and outstanding examples by Dutch and French artists are on display. Dutch artists from Pieter Bruegel the Elder to Jacob van Ruisdael are particularly well represented in the landscape prints, charting the development of landscape art in the Netherlands. Special attention has, of course, been devoted to Rembrandt’s etchings. Among the various techniques on show, the chiaroscuro woodcut is particularly interesting – it is a complex process, particularly notable for the spectacular use of colour. Finally there are a number of nineteenth- and twentieth-century prints, including an unusual etching by James McNeill Whistler.
The exhibition was previously staged (12 May – 11 July 2010) in the Institut Néerlandais in Paris as Un cabinet particulier: les estampes de la Collection Frits Lugt
. The lavishly illustrated scholarly catalogue in French with an introductory essay by Jan Piet Filedt Kok is available from the Rembrandt House Museum shop.