In amassing his collection of drawings, Franz Wilhelm Koenigs had a similar ambition to Bierens de Haan with his print collection: he strove to create an overview of the development of drawing in Europe. His collection is of the highest quality and contains works by almost all the great masters from all schools from the late Middle Ages to the French Impressionists.
A successful businessman, Koenigs was born into a Protestant family in Cologne and moved to Haarlem in 1922. From that moment, collecting drawings became his true passion. In the 1920s he assembled a collection of more than two thousand drawings. He also collected paintings, but on a smaller scale. In 1935 he gave his drawing collection – including loose drawings, albums and illuminated incunabula – along with several paintings on long-term loan to Museum Boymans.
Four years later it transpired that Koenigs had given the collection to a bank in Amsterdam as surety against a substantial loan. In April 1940, D.G. van Beuningen purchased the entire collection and gifted the majority of the works to the Museum Boymans Foundation. Koenigs was so delighted that his collection could remain intact in Rotterdam that he also gifted two drawings by Vittore Carpaccio.
Van Beuningen felt obliged to sell one fifth of the drawings to the German occupiers, with the result that the museum lost some five hundred drawings. After the war, 177 drawings were recovered and reunited with the Koenigs Collection in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen as a loan from the State. The Netherlands lays claim to another 308 missing drawings that are in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
Since 1997, a claim has been laid to this famous collection by Mrs C.F. (Christine) Koenigs (1952) and several other descendants of the collector F.W. Koenigs (1881-1941). In order to provide the public, the media and the involved organisations and persons with the fullest possible verifiable information about this ongoing claim, all documents in the museum’s archive relating to the acquisition of the Koenigs Collection may be consulted online. For more information see the Koenigs Collection.