Skip to main content

Jean Theodore Royer collection

Identifier: ubl115

Scope and Contents

Around one quarter of Royer’s collection consisted of portraits, the other prints gave a survey of printmaking in Holland, Germany, France and Italy. French prints seem to have dominated. It is virtually impossible to identify the drawings in his collection but the relatively small number, almost 800, make them of minor importance only, although a few drawings of historical artifacts by Royer himself were included.


  • Creation: 16th to 18th century

Conditions Governing Use

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

Regels die van toepassing zijn bij het raadplegen van dit materiaal kunnen worden gevonden op de website van de Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden.

Biographical / Historical

Jean Theodore Royer was born in 1737 in The Hague as the son of a French Huguenot preacher. Royer studied Law in Leiden and completed his doctoral thesis in 1757. After this, he may briefly have been engaged in scholarly activities. He accepted a position as secretary to the Court of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland in 1765. From 1777 onwards, he worked as a clerk deputy for the same court. He also became a member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde, and was asked to write contributions on history. Royer was an avid collector of Chinese objects, prints, drawings, books and manuscripts. The whole upper floor of his house at The Hague was used as an exhibition room for his collections. Since Royer was a dedicated Orangist, he was forced to renounce all his public duties after the French invasion in 1795. He remained unemployed until his death in 1807.


21.000 prints and 800 drawings

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

ca. 21.000 prenten en 800 tekeningen verzameld door Jean Theodore Royer (1737-1807).

Abstract in English

c. 21,000 prints and 800 drawings collected by Jean Theodore Royer (1737-1807).

Physical Location

Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, Bijzondere Collecties

Other Finding Aids

No separate inventory of Royer’s collection exists. Except for a taxation list in the Archives of the Print Room, that gives only a very general survey of the contents of all portfolio’s, no description of Royer’s prints and drawings is known. The contents of his collection can only be identified by eliminating all later additions to the holdings of the Print Room. Many prints and drawings have been recorded in the Digital Collections database and in due time all will be recorded there.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 1814, Royer’s widow bequeathed the c. 21,000 prints and 800 drawings to Leiden University. This bequest formed the basis of the collection of the Print Room.


No additions are to be expected.

Related Materials

Leiden University Library also houses some Chinese manuscripts originating from Royer (see Collection Chinese and Sino-Western manuscripts and early printed books).

Separated Materials

Royer’s large collection of art works from China was bequeathed by his widow to the Dutch State and is now kept in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden.


  • Campen, J. van, De Haagse jurist Jean Theodore Royer (1737-1807) en zijn verzameling Chinese voorwerpen. Hilversum 2001.
  • Campen, J. van, Royers Chinese kabinet. Voorwerpen uit China verzameld door Jean Theodore Royer (1737-1807). Amsterdam 2000.


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

Processing Information

The prints and drawings have been integrated into the general collections of drawings and prints.

Collection guide of the Jean Theodore Royer collection (16th to 18th century)
Collectie Jean Theodore Royer
Jef Schaeps, 2008
Language of description
Dutch; Flemish
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Nederlands.

Revision Statements

  • 3 June 2020: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

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