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Albertus Welcker collection

Identifier: ubl082

Scope and Contents

The collection consists mainly of drawings by Dutch artists. Welcker made it his aim to build a collection that should contain at least one drawing - preferably signed and if possible dated - of every Dutch draughtsmen. This scholarly approach resulted in Welcker broadening his horizons to less popular fields of Dutch art (the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century) and to lesser known masters. There are around 200 drawings from the sixteenth century, 1000 from the seventeenth century, 650 from the eighteenth century, 2,650 from the nineteenth century and 1,300 from the twentieth century, as well as some 40 non-Dutch drawings, mostly German, Italian and French ones. From some contemporary artists Welcker possessed large groups of drawings. Without any doubt the most special purchase Welcker ever did was the drawing of the Spinario by Jan Gossaert, that was recognised by him at an auction in a lot of anonymous drawings. The collection also comprises some 17,500 reproductions of Dutch drawings and around 8,200 reproductions of non-Dutch drawings.


  • Creation: 16th to 20th century

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Albertus Welcker was born on 11 January 1884 in Alkmaar as a son of Ir. Johan Wilhelm Welcker, chief inspector general at the Department of Waterways and Public Works, and Clara Albertina de Wit. Albertus Welcker studied medicine in Leiden and after his finals in 1911 he became an assistent physician at the Wilhelmina Gasthuis in Amsterdam, where he specialized as a surgeon. His registrarship was interrupted for one year in 1912, when he volunteered for Dutch Red Cross field hospitals in Bulgaria and Turkey during the First Balkan War. In 1915 he established himself as a surgeon and in 1916 he obtained his doctorate (cum laude) with a dissertation on gangrene, based on his experiences in Bulgaria.

In 1919 he married Johanna Maria van Wessem. From this marriage, four children were born. During the Second World War, when the University of Amsterdam was closed, he clandestinely lectured surgery. In 1948 he retired as a hospital surgeon and in 1953 he gave up his private practice.

Despite his demanding position, Welcker still found time to devote himself to his studies of Dutch art. He started his art-historical career as a collector of contemporary prints during the First World War but sold this collection again at auctions in 1944 and 1948. In 1927 he bought his first old master drawings. Between 1932 and 1955 he published 31 articles on art, often in relation to drawings in his own collection.

In September 1955 Welcker was diagnosed with a terminal illness. On the occasion of the Rembrandt Year and at the suggestion of art historian Prof. Henri van de Waal, Welcker was awarded an honorary doctorate in arts and philosophy on 27 April 1956. This honour was bestowed upon him not only because of his studies on Dutch drawings, but also for the way - diligently and with a keen nose - in which he had built his important collection of Dutch drawings. On 11 July 1957, Welcker passed away.


5800 drawings (circa), 4 albums with drawings and c. 25,700 reproductions

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

Circa 5.800 tekeningen, 4 albums met tekeningen, ongeveer 25.700 reproducties en een kleine groep van kunstenaarsportretten, verzameld door Albertus Welcker (1884-1957)

Abstract in English

Around 5,800 drawings, 4 albums with drawings, some 25,700 reproductions an a small collection of artist’s portraits, collected by Albertus Welcker (1884-1957)

Physical Location

Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, Bijzondere Collecties

Other Finding Aids

All drawings have been recorded in the Digital Collections database. Furthermore, Welcker not only collected drawings, he kept track of his purchases in a card catalogue as well and gathered an extensive documentation. Both can be found and consulted in the Print Room.

Custodial History

Welcker bought his drawings from Dutch auction houses and art dealers and occasionally from dealers in England, France, Germany, Poland, and the Czech republic. From the auction house of C.G. Boerner in Leipzig, where he was a very frequent customer, he had bought at least 66 drawings at the auction of the collection of art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot in 1931. Welcker had also acquired some of his drawings through exchange with, amongst others, J.Q. van Regteren Altena, Fred. Bianchi, E. Perman (Stockholm), and the Municipal Print Room in Antwerp. Several drawings from 20th century artists were also obtained directly from the artist. This is the case for drawings by Jan Boon, Han van Meegeren, Maarten Krabbé, Willem Noordhoek, Joseph Texeira de Mattos, and others.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

After a lengthy period of negotiations by Prof. Henri van de Waal, Welcker’s collection of drawings was sold to the Dutch Ministry of Education, Arts and Sciences on 28 November 1956, for the prize of HFL 150,000. The drawings were transferred to the Print Room in Leiden on 9 january 1957. Welcker’s collection of reproductions was donated to the Print Room in April 1957, shortly before his death.


No additions are to be expected.

Related Materials

Welcker also compiled a collection of prints, drawings, photographs and reproductions of portraits of Dutch artists, which was aquired by the Print Room in 1957 as well and is incorporated in its general collection. The portraits are traceable by means of a card index. A collection guide of the portrait collection was published in 2023 (ubl683).

His collection of reproductions of non-Dutch drawings was transferred to the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD) in The Hague in the 1990s.


  • Tatenhove, J. van, De verzameling A. Welcker, in: J. Bolten e.a., Het Leidse Prentenkabinet. De geschiedenis van de verzamelingen (Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 9). Baarn 1994, p. 121-156.
  • Waal, H. van de, Albertus Welcker (Alkmaar, 11 januari 1884 - Amsterdam, 11 juli 1957), in: Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde te Leiden 1958-’59. Leiden 1959, p. 109-114 (including a bibliography).
  • Welcker, Dr. Albertus, in: H.P. van den Aardweg en J.P.J.C. Hüllstrung (eds.), Persoonlijkheden in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in woord en beeld. Nederlanders en hun werk. Amsterdam 1938, p. 1607.


The material in this collection can be requested in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Processing Information

The drawings have been integrated into the general collection of drawings.


Collection guide of the Albertus Welcker collection (16th to 20th century)
Collectie Albertus Welcker
Jef Schaeps, 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857