Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel - A Collection of Collections

Elie van Rijckevorsel duplicate (double portrait). Studio portrait, ca. 1875. Gemeentearchief Rotterdam, GAR 42/205 Elie van Rijckevorsel as forthcoming student. Studio portrait, 1862. Gemeentearchief Rotterdam, GAR 42/211. Picture postcard with signed self portrait Elie van Rijckevorsel Rome 1 April, 1899. Gemeentearchief Rotterdam, GAR 42/216-217/57.

Press release

Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel
A Collection of Collections
24 September 2011 - 22 January 2012

From ethnographic objects from Indonesia and Brazil, via Chinese and Japanese porcelain to historical European glass, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is bringing together the diverse collections of Rotterdammer Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel in the exhibition ‘A Collection of Collections’.

Physicist, globetrotter and collector, Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel (1845-1928) travelled to remote parts of the globe. He opted for science over trade and returned from his research trips with numerous artistic and ethnographic objects. This unstoppable acquisitive urge resulted in a multifaceted collection, ranging from Indonesian batiks and colonial furniture, weapons from Borneo, baskets from the Maluku Islands, Venetian glass, Oriental porcelain and much more.

Van Rijckevorsel’s collection has greatly enriched Rotterdam’s cultural heritage. Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel was an important patron of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen through his donations of historical decorative arts from 1920 and his bequest in 1928. He donated European glass, Oriental porcelain, a fine seventeenth-century luxury still life and colonial furniture from Indonesia. This donation was the basis of the very first permanent display of applied arts in Museum Boymans, then housed in the Schielandshuis.

Cosmopolitan vision
During his travels through Brazil and Indonesia, Van Rijckevorsel sent countless letters and personally illustrated postcards to members of his family in Rotterdam. This correspondence reveals an idiosyncratic and cosmopolitan vision of the world, which is also central to the exhibition. ‘A Collection of Collections’ represents a cross-section of the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen augmented by extraordinary ethnographic items from the Wereldmuseum.

Van Rijckevorsel in Rotterdam
In 1911 Dr Elie van Rijckevorsel established the Erasmus Foundation to promote the arts, education and science in Rotterdam. After his death his estate endowed this foundation. Rotterdam’s museums are celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Erasmus Foundation with a series of exhibitions devoted to its founder. The Maritime Museum focuses on research expedition and  Van Rijckevorsel's expedition to Indonesia. Museum Rotterdam is showing Van Rijckevorsel as an example of Rotterdam’s elite in the nineteenth century. The Wereldmuseum – itself celebrating its 125th anniversary this year – is supplementing its permanent displays with several important pieces from Van Rijckevorsel’s collection and the Natuurhistorisch Museum is exhibiting a unique herbarium.

Anniversary book
The Erasmus Foundation is publishing a book to celebrate its centenary. It is edited by Paul van de Laar (head of collections at the Historisch Museum), Alexandra Gaba-van Dongen (curator of pre-industrial design at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) and Linda Hanssen (curator of textiles at the Wereldmuseum).

The exhibition has been made possible by the Erasmus Foundation.