Gerson Digital

Jean-Étienne Liotard

The project Gerson Digital traces the careers of travelling artists from the Northern and Southern Netherlands, and explores the way they exchanged ideas with colleagues in other countries. It also focuses on patrons and foreign collectors of Netherlandish artworks. Their collections enabled local artists to study these works and, even many years later, absorb their idiom, and channel it into their own paintings.


In 1942, Horst Gerson (1907-1978) published his pioneering book Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (1942/1983), which examines the dispersal and legacy of 17th-century Dutch painting in Europe and beyond. The aim of the Gerson project is to publish an English-language, critically annotated and fully illustrated digital edition, published in parts, country by country. Thus, each country constitutes a sub-project. When a new volume is launched, a symposium is organised, in close cooperation with art historians from the country concerned. In this way, the project generates new research. So far, publications have been issued on Britain, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Bohemia, Italy, Poland and Sweden (see below).

Subprojects in 2024-2025

Gerson Digital: Sweden was published May 2024. At the launch, the symposium Art on Demand: Objects, Knowledge and Ideas from the Low Countries in Sweden, 1500-1750 took place at the RKD, organised in close cooperation with, among others, the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. In 2024 and 2025, the subproject on Spain and Portugal will be carried out. Preliminary research is also being carried out for a project on Asia.



The Gerson research greatly enriches the art historical information in RKD Research on Dutch and Flemish art in an international context. In RKDartists, the profiles of travelling artists from the Low Countries are expanded and sharpened, with a focus on documenting their mobility. In RKDimages, works related to their stays abroad are added. The collecting history of Netherlandish art abroad is also reflected in RKD Research. Biographical information of collectors of Dutch and Flemish art is added to RKDartists, while their purchases – with detailed provenance details – are highlighted in RKDimages.

Published volumes