Books: Lambert Krahe as a collector for instruction, rather than pleasure

A biography of a perceptive 18th century collector


One of the most perceptive 18th-century collectors of drawings was the bibliophile and painter Lambert Krahe (1712-90), who set up a drawing school in 1762 in his native Düsseldorf, which turned into the Kunstakademie in 1773 under the auspices of the Prince Elector Karl Theodor. This volume of essays shows the artist’s multifaceted identity. As court painter, director of the Prince Elector’s paintings collection and the Kunstakademie, Krahe was interested in the different origins of drawing the human figure.

Having lived in Rome for many years (1736-56), he used this first-hand experience to develop his overriding interest in figurative artists of the Baroque period (Carlo Maratta above all, but also Bernini, Pietro, Passeri, Pietro and Ferri). But he also explored many regions and periods within the main nucleus of Italian drawings, and also the German and French masters, not to mention the Low Countries. In all, he collected more than 40,000 sheets that in old age he donated to form the backbone of the teaching collection at the Kunstakademie, now part of the Kunstpalast Museum. Krahe was indeed a collector “not so much for pleasure… as for instruction”, as Brink highlights in the title of the introductory essay.

Akademie. Sammlung. Krahe. Eine Künstlersammlung für Künstler

Sonja Brink and Beat Wismer, eds

Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast and Deutscher Kunstverlag, 288pp,

€29.90 (hb), in German only

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'A collector for instruction, rather than pleasure'