Arti et Amicitiae Archive

 Archief Arti et Amicitiae

The RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History is delighted to receive an exceptional gift from the Netherlands’ oldest artists’ society Arti et Amicitiae, established in 1839. Roughly 10 metres of archival material from the period 1839-2008 was transferred to the RKD in June. It holds an extraordinary treasure trove of information that covers 170 years of the art world, in the Netherlands and far beyond.

‘Equality, candour and good cheer’

‘Equality, candour and good cheer’ – this was Arti’s original motto at the founding meeting on 3 December 1839 in the Amsterdam coffee house De Karseboom (the Cherry Tree). As its name suggests (Arti et Amicitiae – ‘For Art and Friendship’), the society functioned as a meeting place for artists and lovers of art. The membership comprised artists from home and abroad, and included such prominent figures as Jan Willem Pieneman, Jozef Israëls, George Hendrik Breitner, Thérèse Schwartze, Jan Toorop, Piet Mondrian and Jan Sluijters.


Arti et Amicitiae is a society for artists and art lovers in the heart of Amsterdam. The association is housed in an imposing building on the Rokin and contains fine exhibition galleries as well as a club room. The society’s core objective is to promote the visual arts as well as improve the social and economic standing of artists, and to strengthen the ties between them. In addition to one-off exhibitions, there have been various regular thematic shows over the years, such as the ‘Living Masters (Levende Meesters)’ in the nineteenth century, or the ‘Salons’ and ‘New Members’ Exhibitions’ of the twentieth century.

 Archief Arti et Amicitiae
1. Announcement of the foundation of Arti et Amicitiae, 3 December 1839, collection RKD
2. New year wish with the Arti et Amicitiae building on the Rokin, 1857, lithography, collection RKD
3. Arti et Amicitiae Exhibition Galleries Committee: G. Poggenbeek, N. Bastert, F.M. Heyl, J.S.H. Kever and G.H. Breitner, 1893, collection RKD

Extraordinary treasure trove

The gift offers an extraordinary treasure trove of information about the artists’ society and its glorious history. The information it provides covers not just a great many individual artists, but art dealers, art collectors and connoisseurs as well. It also allows an in-depth look at the organisation’s varied and successful exhibitions programme, administrative concerns, property, finances and the purchase and sale of artworks.

Acquisition for the RKD

According to Professor Chris Stolwijk, the RKD’s General Director, ‘The Arti et Amicitiae archive provides a valuable impression of the stimulating effect the society has exercised on the Dutch art world over the past 150 years. It is a resource eagerly awaited by many researchers. The archive is a remarkable acquisition; it fits perfectly among the many artist’s archives already assembled at the RKD and which can be consulted by museums, researchers and the general public. The RKD is extremely grateful to Arti et Amicitiae for the trust they have demonstrated in our institute.’

 Archief Arti et Amicitiae
1. List of attendees at the ‘Honour diner offered to sir G.H. Breitner’, 24 November 1901, collection RKD
2. Opening of the Members’ Exhibition, 11 May 1929, in the photo, among others, mayor of Amsterdam Willem de Vlugt, artists Marinus van Raalte and Lizzy Ansingh, collection RKD
3. Invitation for the Wine Harvest Festival at Arti et Amicitiae, 1951, collection RKD