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Bernardus Fredericus Aloysius Eilers collection

Identifier: ubl282

Scope and Contents

The collection has been assembled from different sources and has various accession numbers (not one or a few ranges).


  • Creation: 1896-1951

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Bernardus Fredericus Aloysius Eilers (Amsterdam 1878-1951) received drawing education during his late teenager years, and learned about photography during a one year’s course chemigraphy in 1895/96 in Vienna. The eighteen-year old youngster must have been inspired by this hotspot for artistic photography, with many flourishing photographic studios at that time. In Amsterdam, he combined a career in reproduction photography (he reproduced work by Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum, amongst other) with making pictorialist and modernist art photography in his leisure time. The studios he successively ran in Amsterdam were vivid meeting places for artists. He was a central figure in early 20th century Dutch art photography. Beside an excellent photographer himself, he made an effort for the improvement of art photography, by developing new printing procedures with the pictorialists, joining boards and juries of photographers associations, giving lectures on photography, founding a technical photography academy in 1948 and being part of the editorial board of the photography magazine Focus.

Along with Henri Berssenbrugge and Adriaan Boer, Bernard F. Eilers was one of the few Dutch pictorialist photographers who internationally could match the top photographers in other countries. Unlike many other art photographers of his era, he practised photography not only in his free time, but also professionally, albeit principally in photographic reproduction techniques. He also did a considerable amount of advertising photography on commission, for the Philips incandescent lamp factory in Eindhoven, among other clients, and shot reportage for the professional construction journal Het Bouwbedrijf and other magazines. His art photographs of street scenes, primarily in Amsterdam but also in other places in The Netherlands, show influences of 19th century realism and impressionism, while the sobriety and handling of light in his portraits reveals influence from 17th century Dutch painting, and particularly Rembrandt.


110 photographs (circa)

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

Collectie van voornamelijk kunstfoto’s door de Amsterdamse fotograaf Bernard Eilers (1878-1951). Thema’s in Eilers’ foto’s lopen uiteen van portretten en stillevens tot stadsgezichten. In opdracht maakte hij ook reclamefotografie en reproductiefotografie. Hij maakte bijvoorbeeld in opdracht reproducties van schilderijen in de collectie van het Rijksmuseum. In zijn picturalistische streven naar de erkenning van fotografie als kunstvorm, produceerde Eilers niet alleen zelf hoge kwaliteit fotografie. Hij had ook een leidende rol in fotografennetwerken en -verenigingen.

Abstract in English

Collection of mostly art photographs by the Amsterdam based reproduction and art photographer Bernard Eilers (1878-1951). Themes in Eilers’ photographs vary from portraits to still lifes, cityscapes. He also made advertisement photography on commission. In his pictorialist strive for acknowledgement of photography as an art form, Eilers did not only make high quality photography himself, but also took a leading role in photographers’ networks and associations.


The photographs can be found by searching on author’s name Eilers and subsequently filtering on material type ‘Photographs’

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The collection can be accessed through the online catalogue.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was acquired through gifts in 1980 and 1982, by Mrs. G. and Miss H. Eilers, the widow and daughter of the photographer.


Incidental future additions might occur.

Separated Materials

Groups of photographs by Bernard Eilers are part of the photocollections of the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam City Archives.


  • Leijerzapf, I. and T. de Ruiter, Bernard Eilers’, in: Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse fotografie in monografieën en thema-artikelen, 1986, afl. 4.
  • Bool, F. and A. van Veen, Bernard F. Eilers, Haarlem 2003.


The material can be requested in the catalogue and can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room. Please note that photographs and photography albums have to be requested for viewing at least 24 hours in advance (see also Restrictions on use).

Processing Information

Practically all photographs by Eilers are catalogued, although not all have been digitized yet.

Collection guide of the Bernardus Fredericus Aloysius Eilers collection (1896-1951)
Collectie Bernardus Fredericus Aloysius Eilers
Maartje van den Heuvel, 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het English.

Revision Statements

  • 7 February 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