Crowdsourcingproject Bredius notes


The archival notes of Abraham Bredius (1855-1946) contain a wealth of information on the lives of Dutch artists of the seventeenth century. With the help of a crowdsourcing platform (in Dutch), the RKD wants to make this widely consulted source digitally accessible in RKDexcerpts. Anyone wishing to contribute to this project can volunteer.


The aim of the crowdsourcing project Bredius notes is to provide metadata for the many excerpts Bredius made from archival documents through the help of volunteers. Upon completion of the project, the images of the individual excerpts with the corresponding metadata will be searchable in the online database RKDexcerpts.

Crowdsourcing project Bredius notes

From the late nineteenth century, Abraham Bredius, Rembrandt specialist and, until 1909, director of the Mauritshuis, spent countless hours in the then non-public Dutch archives. He was one of the first to conduct in-depth research on artists working in the Republic between the late sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries. He did so in a systematic way, noting down what he considered important for knowledge about their lives and work. Bredius' keen research eventually resulted in tens of thousands of excerpts: summaries of as many archival documents written on small strips of paper. He incorporated some of his findings in publications, such as the section 'Archiefsprokkelingen' in the magazine Oud Holland and the seven-volume Künstler-Inventare, but much remained unpublished. The data collected by Bredius are still an important source for art-historical research and a first access to original archival documents.


The crowdsourcing project started in 2021 with the excerpts involving artists working in Amsterdam. Currently, excerpts are being processed from artists who worked in other cities, such as The Hague, Leiden, Delft, Haarlem, Dordrecht, Middelburg and Gorinchem. Project leader is Suzanne Laemers, curator of early Netherlandish paintings.


This project is made possible partly through contributions from the Huygens Institute for History and Culture of the Netherlands as part of the project Golden Agents. Creative industries of the Dutch Golden Age, the Gravin van Bylandt Stichting, the Bredius Family Foundation, the Friends of the RKD and the Cultuurfonds Zuid-Holland. The crowdsourcing platform was created in cooperation with Atlantis Crowdsourcing.


Anyone who likes a challenge and enjoys contributing to a substantive project can volunteer. Helping out involves getting to know the life and work of seventeenth-century artists. With their family, social network and with the arrangement of their finances. But also how they arranged their inheritance, in wills for instance, because misery and death were very much a threat in the seventeenth century. And just like today, people harmed each other financially, materially and physically. A number of documents offer insight into this, sometimes poignantly.

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