The RKD is digitising sculptors’ archives


Starting in March 2023, the RKD will begin a digitisation project of a unique collection of sculptor's archives. These thirteen archives belong to both individual artists and larger art organisations, but all relate to the period surrounding World War II. As part of this collaborative project between the RKD and Museum Beelden aan Zee, these sculptors’ archives will be digitised over the coming time period, after which they will be made available online for future research.

Sculptor archives

The thirteen sculptor's archives selected for this project concern the collections relating to the artists Mari Andriessen, Marius van Beek, Federico Antonio Carasso, Hendrik Chabot, Frits van Hall, Henk Henriët, Jaap Kaas, Charlotte van Pallandt, Willem Reijers, Han Wezelaar, Johan Wertheim, the archives of the Dutch Society of Sculptors and the Gerrit van der Veen Monument Foundation archive. Together, these archives form a unique source of information about artistic life before, during and after World War II. For example, they contain private correspondence such as letters, diaries, postcards and address books, giving a glimpse into the personal lives of these important Dutch sculptors and the realities of being an artist during the war. These archives also reveal something about the more general position of artists during the war and the organisation of cultural and resistance networks.

Jaap Kaas archive

One of these artists was the sculptor Jaap Kaas (1898-1972). He was known even before World War II for his drawings and sculptures of animal figures, often studied in the flesh by Jaap Kaas at Artis. As a Jewish artist, however, he was fired from his position as a teacher at the Institute for Arts and Crafts Education in 1941. Therefore, he decided to teach at the W.A. van Leer Secondary Jewish Art School. When, due to the many deportations, this school also eventually had to be closed in 1943, Jaap Kaas was forced to flee his beloved Amsterdam and go into hiding with his wife in Rotterdam. During this period, Kaas kept a diary on a weekly calendar, in which he recorded in keywords (due to the limited space on the page) how he experienced the terrible war and Hunger Winter. This diary of unique wartime experiences is part of the archive housed at the RKD, alongside proof of Kaas’ registration with the Jewish Council in 1941, a voucher for a Food Package, food stamps, correspondence and his Star of David, which can be seen on a photographed self-portrait from 1941. This project will involve the digitisation of these records with eyewitness accounts of World War II.

1. Jaap Kaas working at his 'Threatening Baboon' in the monkeyhouse of Artis, c. 1938, collection RKD, Jaap Kaas archive
2. Jaap Kaas, Notes from the war diary, 1945, collection RKD
3. Jaap Kaas teaching at the Middelbare Joodsche Kunstnijverheidsschool W.A. van Leer, 1942

Mari Andriessen archive

Another artist who will be addressed within this project is the artist Mari Andriessen (1897-1979). At the beginning of the war, he refused to become a member of the national-socialistic Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer. Artists who did not join the Kultuurkamer were denied commissions and could not exhibit their work. During this time, his Haarlem studio was used by the resistance as a weapons depot, and the artist himself hid several Jewish people in his home. In the years after the war, Mari Andriessen became known as the ‘Sculptor of the Resistance’. He designed several war monuments, of which his sculptures of The Dockworker and Queen Wilhelmina are probably the best known examples. Mari Andriessen’s archive, which is part of the RKD’s collection, contains many letters and other correspondence, which will be scanned and preserved as part of this digitisation project.

1. Stan van Herwaarden, Mari Andriessen in his studio, c. 1955, collection Frans Hals Museum
2. Vincent Pieter Semeyn Esser, Clay model of Concentration Camp Men by Mari Andriessen, probably a preliminary study for the war memorial in Enschede, c. 1945-1949
3. Unveiling of the February Strike resistance monument (The Dokwerker) of Mari Andriessen, 1952, collection Anefo Reportage

The Dutch Society of Sculptors

The Dutch Society of Sculptors (Nederlandse Kring van Beeldhouwers, NKvB in short) was founded in 1918 as a Dutch professional association for sculptors. After World War II, many members of the association were concerned about the large-scale emergence of spontaneous war monuments and memorials. The NKvB successfully advocated for more government regulation. Indeed, in October 1945, the War or Peace Memorials Decree came into effect, after which approval from the Minister of Education, Arts and Sciences was required before a monument could be created. In addition, the NKvB henceforth determined which artists were allowed to create War and Memorial Monuments, and the designs also had to be approved by them. The archive of the Dutch Society of Sculptors is therefore a very valuable source for insights about the artistic memorial culture after World War II in the Netherlands.


The sculptor archives, including the Jaap Kaas and Mari Andriessen collections, together make up for more than 40 meters of archival material. After all these records have undergone a conservation treatment at Hoogduin Paper Restorers, they will be digitised by GMS. With the support of the Mondrian Fund, the documents from the thirteen sculptor’s archives will become accessible to everyone in the RKD database.

Due to the digitisation project, the thirteen archives will be temporarily unavailable for consultation (for which the exact dates can be found in RKDcollections). The first series of archives will be digitised starting this week. In the meantime, loans from the following collections can therefore no longer be requested:

  • Mari Andriessen archive and collection
  • Marius van Beek archive
  • Federico (‘Fred’) Antonio Carasso archive
  • Hendrik and To Chabot archive and collection
  • Frits van Hall archive
  • Henk Henriët archive
  • Jaap Kaas archive
  • Dutch Society of Sculptors (NKvB) archive
  • Charlotte van Pallandt archive
  • Willem Reijers archive
  • Gerrit van der Veen Monument Foundation archive
  • Han Wezelaar archive
  • Johan G. Wertheim archive