The Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts houses an important collection of Netherlandish, Flemish and Dutch master drawings of the 15th to the 18th century. Although numerically smaller than its holdings of Italian and French drawings, the collection of some 1000 sheets is exceptional in quality.
The core of the collection –important drawings by Goltzius, Bloemaert, Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, Rembrandt –comes primarily from two sources: the 18th-century private Swedish art collections of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1695-1770), son of the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, and of Count Jacob Gustaf de la Gardie (1768-1842). Tessin was in Paris in 1741, when the famous collection of the financier Pierre Crozat was put up for auction, and was to be one of the principal buyers. De la Gardie met the great collector Albert of Saxony-Teschen in Vienna around 1800 and received a selection of works from his holdings as a gift on his returning to Sweden. Parts of two of the finest drawings collections ever assembled thus ended up in Swedish hands.
As part of the cataloguing project, each of the drawings will undergo detailed technical examinations, in selected drawings with the aid of false colour infrared imaging, x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. This new technical material, together with information about earlier conservation treatments and an analysis of each work’s material structure and drawing technique, will be included in the catalogue entries, in addition to standard cataloguing and interpretive information.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69), Studies of Women and Children, pen and brown ink, brown wash.
The resulting two-volume catalogue will represent the final volumes of the Museum’s series of catalogues of its own collection of Old Master drawings, as well as a smaller number of drawings in the public collections of the University of Uppsala and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, thus completing this long-term scholarly project.
The catalogue is written by Börje Magnusson and Carina Fryklund in collaboration with paper conservator Karin Wretstrand.