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History of the RKD

The RKD opened to the public in 1932. The foundation of the collection was the extensive archive of art documentation left by the art historian Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930). His collection included c100,000 photographs relating to the visual arts of the seventeenth century, in both the Northern and Southern Netherlands. The RKD’s Society of Friends was named after Cornelis Hofstede de Groot.

Before the archive became public the art collector and connoisseur Frits Lugt (1884-1970) extended the collection with a further 100,000 reproductions as well as 22,000 auction catalogues and several thousand books. In addition Jonkheer Dr E.A. van Beresteyn (1876-1948) presented the RKD with his documentation on Dutch portraiture.

The former RKD at the Korte Vijverberg

Over the years the RKD has increased the breadth of its collections. Shortly after the Second World War the original core collection of material on Early Netherlandish painting was supplemented with an archive on Foreign Art and another on Modern and Contemporary Dutch and Belgian Art. In addition the RKD expanded by beginning separate collections of press documentation, art archives, and material pertaining to sculpture.

Since 1995 the RKD has been a private foundation. However, the collections managed by the foundation remain state property.

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