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Gerard Foekema collection

Identifier: ubl164

Scope and Contents

The Collection Foekema so far, focuses on India (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh ) and Myanmar. Foekema excels in the systematic approach to photographic documentation. He will always supply perfect photographic overviews of monuments and sites, as well as detailed views of the temples’ programme of decoration. Moreover, he provided the collection holder with plans to encompass the exact location of the detailed views in the overall design of the temple. This enables scholars to use his photographs for detailed architectural and iconographical studies. Also Foekema’s love for people in general is reflected in his photographs as most of them show citizens to contextualize his shots. This approach gives an extra flavour to his images, turning these into time documents. This is also true for his townscapes which are of a growing importance, since Indian society is most rapidly changing.

All prints are black and white gelatin silver prints.

This collection is part of the ubl159 Kern Institute Photography Collections .


  • Creation: 1979-1990

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Gerard Foekema was born in 1943 in Santpoort (Velsen, prov. North Holland) and grew up in Haarlem. He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam where he graduated in 1969. After a few years of earning his living as a teacher and as an editor, he obtained a position in the administration of the University of Amsterdam. Foekema travelled for the first time to India in 1976 and became fascinated with Indian architecture. From 1979 onwards, he made the Hindu temples of Karnataka (South West India) his main topic of study, both textually and photographically. He focused on the temples of the Early and Later Chalukyas (6th-12th c.) and Hoysala (11th-14th c.) periods. After an early retirement in 1989 from his position at the University of Amsterdam the study of Indian temples became more than less Foekema’s main occupation. He followed courses in art and archaeology of South-Asia at Leiden University and did extensive field work for an extensive monograph on Chalukyan architecture. Simultaneouly Foekema worked on a PhD thesis, titled Architecture decorated with architecture: later Medieval temples of Karnataka, 1000-1300 A.D., which he defended in Leiden in 2003. Foekama’s publications on Hindu temples are illustrated with his own photographs.

Since the 1990s and the emergence of the digital camera, Foekema has broadened his geographical scope by travelling extensively in Central Asia and China, and also in Ethiopia and South Africa.


3650 photographs (circa)

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

Zwart-wit foto’s genomen door de Nederlandse kunsthistoricus en semi-professionele fotograaf Gerard Foekema (1943-), verzameld door het vroegere Instituut voor Zuid-Aziatische Archeologie (Universiteit van Amsterdam) in de periode 1979-1988 en door het Instituut Kern (Universiteit Leiden) tussen 1979 en 1990. Het betreft foto’s van monumenten en sites, stadsgezichten en landschappen genomen in India (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh) en Myanmar. Hierbij domineren de architectuuropnamen, in het bijzonder van de Hindu tempels in Karnataka (Zuid-West India).

Abstract in English

Black and white photographs taken by the Dutch art historian and semi-professional photographer Gerard Foekema (1943-), collected by the former Institute for South-Asian Archaeology (University of Amsterdam) in the years 1979-1988, and by the Kern Institute (Leiden University) between 1979 and 1990. The prints depict monuments and sites, townscapes and landscapes photographed in India (Tamil-Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh) and Myanmar. The main topic is architecture, especially the Hindu temples of Karnataka (South West India).

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Part of the Collection Foekema is digitally accessible via Digital Collections. Records hold the inventory numbers: P-019522 to P-019831; P-020196 to P-022217 and P-046000 to P-046951.

Custodial History

The Collection Foekema was partly acquired by the Institute of South Asian Archaeology, Amsterdam (2340 photographs) between 1979 and 1988, and partly by the Kern Institute (Leiden) between 1979 and 1990 (951 photographs). All Amsterdam photographs are mounted on board and provided with a description pasted on the back. After the Institute of South Asian Archaeology closed down in 1988, the Collection Foekema was removed to the Bibliotheek voor Aziatische Kunst en Archeologie (BAKA, Universiteit van Amsterdam), in 1990 to the Museum of the Tropics (Tropenmuseum), Amsterdam, and eventually to the Kern Institute, Leiden University, in 1995. As a result of the transfer from Amsterdam to Leiden the size of the Collection Foekema already preserved at the Kern Institute grew considerably.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Collection Foekema, part of the Kern Institute Photographic Collections, was transferred to the Leiden University Library, department Special Collections, on April 27, 2010.


Future additions can be expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Part of the Collection Foekema is digitally accessible via Digital Collections. Records hold the inventory numbers: P-019522 to P-019831; P-020196 to P-022217 and P-046000 to P-046951.

Separated Materials

Foekema’s private collection of c. 50,000 photographs and slides.


  • Foekema, G., Hoysala Architecture: Medieval Temples of Southern Karnātaka, built during Hoysala Rule. New Delhi 1994.
  • Foekema, G., A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples. New Delhi 1996.
  • Foekema, G., Cālukya Architecture: Medieval Temples of Northern Karnātaka built during the Rule of the Cālukya of Kalyāna and thereafter, AD 1000-1300, 3 vol., plates. New Delhi 2003.
  • Foekema, G., Architecture decorated with architecture : later Medieval temples of Karnātaka, AD 1000-1300A. New Delhi 2003 [PhD thesis Leiden University].
  • Foekema, G., Fifteen golden Examples: Indian Temple Architecture in Karnātaka. Bangalore 2005.


The material in this collection can be requested at the Special Collections Reading Room, using the inventory number starting with P-0.

Processing Information

Sections of the collection were digitized and made accessible via the Skopeo-database at the Kern Institute (financed by the Jan Gonda Foundation) and later via DigiBeeld, an E-learning environment for students and teachers. Since 2009, metadata (description records) and scanned photographs are partially digitally accessible via Digital Collections.

Collection guide of the Gerard Foekema collection (1979-1990)
Collectie Gerard Foekema
Gerda Theuns-de Boer (Marie-Odette Scalliet, ed.), 2011
Language of description
Script of description
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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
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