Library Arti & Amicitiae
Since 1992 the extensive nineteenth-century book collection assembled by Arti et Amicitiae, the Amsterdam society of artists, has been incorporated into the Van Gogh Museum library. This collection offers a good impression of the literature available to assist the society's members to master their profession. The usual guides to draughtsmanship and painting, are accompanied by books on perspective, anatomy and physiognomy. The collection also includes works on (classical) archaeology, topography, architecture, costume and heraldry.
The Society of Arti et Amicitiae was founded in 1839, its library less than a year later. The ‘absence in our country of a satisfactory public institution of similar nature' motivated the society to establish a library for its members. The core of the collection was assembled during Arti et Amicitiae's heyday, in the years from the library's foundation up to 1875. It was library policy to acquire specialist books that were too expensive for individuals to purchase. An important part of the collection was acquired through gifts which were duly recorded in the annual reports. The conservative course pursued by Arti et Amicitiae during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is reflected in the library's contents. Although the society's library aspired to serve as an 'encyclopaedia of the science of Art', the collection was entirely lacking in information about avant-garde movements. Nevertheless, the Arti et Amicitiae library contains important works and its acquisition has filled many gaps in the Van Gogh Museum library's own collection.
The Van Gogh Museum does not own Arti et Amicitiae's archive. Click here for information about the archive.
De secreten van den eervverdigen Heere Alexis Piemontois, Antwerp, 1571-1574
The oldest book in the Arti et Amicitiae library contains recipes for all kinds of remedies, medicines, perfumes and paint. The original Italian edition dates from 1555. The copy in the Arti et Amicitiae library is interesting on account of the various comments written in the book. These notes, which include remarks about the recipes, supplementary information and new recipes, apparently date from the period in which the work was published. The book's former owner has occasionally drawn tiny hands with an extended index finger to mark specific passages in the text.
Eere-tentoonstelling Jacob Maris, Amsterdam 1899
It is remarkable that this catalogue of the exhibition held at Arti et Amicitiae in 1899, in honour of Jacob Maris, found a place in the library, as catalogues of the society's own shows were generally not collected by the library but kept in the archive. Of particular note in this catalogue are the photographs of the exhibition, and the pen and ink subtitles recording the names of individuals who owned works on display.
Jacob de Vos, Beschrijving der Schetsen in Olieverw betreffende de geschiedenis van Nederland Beginnende met het jaar 40 en Eindigende met het jaar 1861
This manuscript originally came from the Historische Galerij, a collection of 253 oil sketches and 10 statues assembled by art collector and patron Jacob de Vos of Amsterdam. The book contains a series of anecdotes from Dutch history, written by De Vos as a commentary on his historical gallery. Vincent van Gogh wrote about the collection to Theo:
‘Did you know that Rochussen once painted the siege of Leiden? I believe that the painting belongs to Mr De Vos' Letter 141/120, Amsterdam 3 March 1878.
Jacob de Vos's Historische Galerij was bequeathed to Arti et Amicitiae on the death of his widow. The collection was sold when history paintings went out of fashion at the end of the nineteenth century. Although the city of Amsterdam acquired the paintings, in 1897, the manuscript remained in the Arti et Amicitiae library.
'The Law of Beauty by Polykleitos', photographer Henri Pronk; photograph inserted in H.C.A.L. Fock's Anatomie canonique ou le canon de Polyclète retrouvé, Utrecht 1866
During the 1860s the Utrecht physician H.C.A.L. Fock published a book about the Canon of Polykleitos, a treatise on the proportions of the human body, written in the fifth century BC. A number of photographs were inserted in the copy which the author presented to the Arti et Amicitiae library. They illustrate the ideal proportions of the human body as described by the Greek sculptor Polykleitos. This photograph shows copies of the Belvedere Apollo and the Venus de Milo, a stuffed monkey, a skeleton of a monkey, a human skeleton, a model of Utrecht cathedral and, in the background, a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.
Books from the Arti et Amicitiae collection may only be viewed on request.