Franz Wilhelm Koenigs (1881-1941) strove to create an overview of the development of the art of drawing in Europe.
His collection is not only extensive but also of the highest quality and contains drawings by almost all the great masters from all national and regional schools from the late Middle Ages to the French Impressionists. For more information, see ‘The Koenigs Collection / An incomparable, encyclopedic collection of drawings’.
A successful protestant German merchant banker from Cologne, Koenigs moved to Haarlem in 1922. From that moment collecting drawings became his true passion. In the 1920s he assembled more than 2.500 drawings. He also collected paintings, but on a smaller scale. In 1935 he gave his drawings collection – including loose sheets, albums and illuminated incunabula – along with several paintings on long-term loan to Museum Boymans.
Four years later it became clear 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 from the bank and later on gifted the majority of the works to the Museum Boymans Foundation. Koenigs was so delighted that his collection would remain intact in Rotterdam that he donated two more drawings, both by Vittore Carpaccio, to complete it.
Before he presented the collection in December 1940 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 sheets. 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 property claims have been laid to this famous collection by Christine Koenigs together with some others of the collector’s grandchildren. For an overview of these claims, see ‘The Koenigs Collection / Claims’.
In order to provide the public with the fullest possible verifiable information, all documents in the museum’s archive relating to the acquisition of the Koenigs Collection have been made available online, see ‘The Koenigs Collection / Archival sources’.