The Print Room of the Groeningemuseum in Bruges – formerly called the Steinmetzcabinet – has not received the attention that it deserves. Few people are aware of its existence, let alone of the quality and quantity of its collection. In order to increase the visibility of this rich collection, the Groeningemuseum has started – in collaboration with the Flemish Art Collection – with the digitalisation of the works on paper. Approximately 15000 prints and 4000 drawings are systematically inventoried in an online database, accessible through the website of the Flemish Art Collection: www.vlaamsekunstcollectie.be and www.europeana.eu.
In the near future, the works will also be accessible through the heritage website of the province West-Vlaanderen www.erfgoedinzicht.be and the website www.lukasweb.be through which images are distributed. Responsible for this project are Virginie D’haene and Evelien de Wilde, staff members of the Flemish Art Collection and assistent curators at the Groeningemuseum.
The collection grew out of the donation of 14000 prints and 3000 drawings by collector John Steinmetz (1795-1883) to the city of Bruges. The Londoner started his collection at only 15 years of age after purchasing his first Rembrandt etching. When moving to Bruges in 1819 with his family, Steinmetz drastically expanded his collection. It consists of works by the most prominent engravers and print designers of their times, among which Albrecht Dürer, Hans Sebald Beham, Lucas van Leyden, Hendrick Goltzius, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn. When Steinmetz donated his collection to the city of Bruges in 1864, it had developed into a diverse compilation reflecting the highlights of European print history.
After the Steinmetz donation, the works on paper collection of the Groeningemuseum was expanded with four other donations. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bruges native, British artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) donated about 350 works on paper by his hand including etchings, lithographs and woodcuts. This is today one of the world’s most important collections of works by Brangwyn. In the 1980s the entire graphic oeuvre of Luc de Jaegher (1912-1987) was gifted. This artist as well as director (1961-1978) of the Bruges Academy of Arts made ca. 800 expressionistic prints of romantic and symbolic content. In 1989, the relatives of August Peellaert (1793-1876) – artist and army officer from a noble Bruges family – donated about 300 works by Peellaert. These are views of Bruges and other European cities, villages and rural scenes he executed during his travels. Most recently in 1992 all 85 linear abstract prints in constructivist style by the Bruges artist Luc Peire (1916-1994) were added to the collection.
The Groeningemuseum will start showing its prints and drawings collection on a regular basis thereby highlighting the multiplicity of the works on paper collection. The exhibition The seventeenth century as seen through the eyes of Jacques Callot, on view from 1 February until 20 May 2013 at the Arentshuis (Groeningemuseum) is the first collection presentation of this kind. For more information on this exhibition: http://www.brugge.be/internet/nl/musea/activiteiten/activiteiten_2013.htm#3
For more information, or a visit to Print Room of the Groeningemuseum, please contact:
Virginie D’haene (assistent curator Groeningemuseum)
Evelien de Wilde (assistent curator Groeningemuseum)