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up to and including 14 August 2022
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

Drawn memories of Albert J. Elen

This is a presentation made by Albert Elen, retired prints & drawings curator. Drawings were his biggest love, in this presentation you can see how they ended up in the collection.

Albert Elen has been employed by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for nearly two decades. Officially, his title was senior curator of drawings and prints, but in practice he preferred to leave the prints to others. Even when he was studying in Leiden, Albert’s true love was for draw­ings, and it is this part of the collection that has enjoyed his energetic and enthusiastic attention during his time at the museum.

Albert explains

After more than twenty well-spent years, I am saying farewell to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The small selection of art works in this room shows the breadth of the acquisitions realised during my curatorship, primarily drawings. 

When I was studying art history in Leiden in the seventies, I developed a preference for early Italian art. This resulted in a doctoral thesis about the drawing books of Jacopo Bellini and a dissertation about Italian drawing books from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In order to be able to reconstruct drawing books that had been torn apart, I specialised in the history of paper, codicology and the science of watermarks. Dutch art also enjoyed considerable attention in the past four decades, with publications about artists such as Stradanus, Rembrandt, Willem van Mieris and Jan Hulswit. 

After working as curator at the Royal Library and the Netherlands Office for Fine Arts and deputy chief inspector of Cultural Assets at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, I joined the museum at the end of 2002. My third curatorship, the longest and most enjoyable. But everything must, unfortunately, come to an end.  

With the help of two much-loved ‘old friends’ and seventeen acquisitions, in three cases combined with another work of art from the museum collection, I would like to take you on a personal ‘trip down memory lane’.