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Nicolaas Gerhardus van Huffel collection

Identifier: ubl224

Scope and Contents

The prints from the Van Huffel Collection were collected because of their technical qualities. The collection was especially rich in coloured prints, mezzotints and other tonal techniques. Artists such as Johannes Teyler, Abraham Bloteling, Jakob Christof Le Blon and Pieter Schenk were well represented. Subject and artistic qualities were, although not irrelevant, of secondary importance to Van Huffel. The same can be said of the selection that was donated to Leiden University: the technical qualities of the prints were of primary importance. Especially mezzotints are well represented in the donation.


  • Creation: 1600-1930


Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

N.G. van Huffel was born in Utrecht in 1869 as the son of an antiquarian. He studied physics, majored in electricity. After he had received his PhD, he founded a factory of electrical measuring instruments. However, he soon took an interest in the fine arts and especially in the history and techniques of the graphic arts and started collecting prints on a large scale. He chose prints as representative of their technique or because they were characteristic for developments in the history of graphic art, not because of their artistic value. Especially prints imitative of drawings were of interest to him. Besides collecting prints he started doing research into their history. His study of the prints of Cornelis Ploos van Amstel was published in 1912, in 1916 followed by Coloritto, his study of colour printing techniques.

In 1922 Van Huffel sold his collection to the School voor de Grafische Vakken, an institute for the training of future employees in the printing industry, probably out of economic necessity. Van Huffel’s collection was intended to be used as instruction material for the students. Van Huffel himself was employed as a curator and a teacher. His collection became known as Grafische Studieverzameling. In 1934, after Van Huffel had been forced to resign, his collections, owned by the School, became part of a newly founded Museum voor de Grafische Vakken [Museum for Graphic Art]. Van Huffel passed away in 1936.


100 books (circa) and some 1500 prints

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

Prenten en boeken afkomstig uit N.G. van Huffels Grafische Studieverzameling zoals in 1961 door het Rijk verdeeld over verschillende instellingen, waaronder het Leidse Prentenkabinet.

Abstract in English

Prints and books, originating from N.G. van Huffel’s Grafische Studieverzameling [Graphic collection], distributed by the State in 1961 over several institutions, including the Leiden Print Room.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The prints can be found in the catalogue. Complete inventory lists of the collection, including the prints and books that were donated to other institutions, can be consulted via the curator or the staff of the Reading Room.

Custodial History

Although a quite successful start, the Museum suffered a lot during World War II, especially in the aftermath in 1945 when the building and its collections were raided. This lead eventually to the dissolving of the Museum. In 1956 the collections, or what was left of them, were transferred to the Dutch state. The prints were kept in large folders and arranged according to their technique. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam received a small number of prints of exceptional importance, from the remaining prints the Leiden Print Room got to select whatever it considered useful for its collections. In the end 24 folders were transferred to Leiden.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Dutch state (Dienst voor ‘s Rijks Verspreide Kunstvoorwerpen) in 1961 to the Print Room and hence to the University Library in 2002.


No future additions are to be expected.

Related Materials

When the Dutch state distributed the remnants of Van Huffel’s collection among several institutions, Leiden received the majority of the books and prints. Other parts were donated to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden and the Staatsdrukkerij [now privatized and called Sdu Publishers].


  • Meijer, R., De lotgevallen van dr. N.G. van Huffels Grafische Studieverzameling in: De boekenwereld: tijdschrift voor boek en prent, 10 (1993), p. 58-70.
  • Meijer, R., N.G. van Huffel, 1869-1936, prentenverzamelaar, in: Rob Meijer, Helen C.M. Schretlen, Ad Stijnman, Coloritto. De kunst van het kleurendrukken. Uit de collectie Van Huffel. Amsterdam 2003, p. 8-31.


The prints can be requested via the Catalogue. They can be studied in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Processing Information

The prints and books are part of the holdings of the University Library and are distributed throughout the collections. The prints are recognizable as originating from Van Huffel because of the mark on their backside and through the original inventory lists of the donation. Their origin has not yet been recorded in the catalogue but this information will be added in due time. The inventory numbers range from PK-1961-P-36 until PK-1961-P-259, many numbers comprising several prints.

Collection guide of the Nicolaas Gerhardus van Huffel collection (1600-1930)
Collectie Nicolaas Gerhardus van Huffel
Jef Schaeps, 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het English.

Revision Statements

  • 24 March 2014: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

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