Women art dealers and collectors in the Netherlands charted


In 2021, RKD-curator Evelien de Visser was awarded a NWO Museum Grant for her project Women in Art. Dealers and collectors in the Netherlands, 1870-1914. Now De Visser has completed her research. The results contribute to the visibility of female art dealers and collectors in this period.

Women in art

Since 2017, Evelien de Visser has worked as curator of nineteenth-century art at the RKD. She specialises in the art trade and collecting history in the Netherlands at the time of the long nineteenth century. Recently, De Visser has been working on the research project Women in Art. Dealers and collectors in the Netherlands, 1870-1914. The aim was to bring women into the limelight who would remain out of reach in object-oriented research by museums.

Inventory of collectors

De Visser began with an inventory of women dealers and collectors using resources at the RKD. She examined the buyers of watercolours in the daily register of the Hague art gallery Goupil in the period 1883-1916. Within the total of 6000 names of buyers, 114 unique female buyers could be identified. She also looked at patrons of loans in exhibition catalogues of the main Dutch artists' associations and art dealers during this period. It involved a total of 5500 exhibited artworks and objects, of which almost 560 were loans from female owners. The more than 1000 entries of board and committee members at artists' associations Pulchri Studio, the Rotterdam Art Academy and the Rotterdamsche Kunstkring yielded a few names of women holding board positions only at the latter association.

Vrouwelijke handelaars en verzamelaars
1. Anonymous, Interior of collector Anna Petronella Gelderman (1871-1947) in The Hague, after ca. 1906, collection RKD 
2. Daily registers of purchases and sales of 'watercolors', 1883-1916, archive Kunsthandel Goupil, collection RKD


From this inventory, De Visser made a selection of fifty dealers and collectors, for whom the data were entered in RKDartists. Additional biographical information can be found in this database, as well as sources for further research and links to other sub-collections of the RKD. Many of the works of art traded and/or collected by these women were also entered into RKDimages. This has made the results of this part of the research accessible to a wide audience. Moreover, the inventory offers numerous starting points for further research, internships and master theses.

Individual cases highlighted

Following the survey, De Visser conducted in-depth research in which two collectors (Anna Christina van Zegwaard and Griettie Smith-van Stolk) and one art dealer (Helene Artz-Schemel) were studied in more detail. The case study on Artz-Schemel will be featured in an article to be published next Spring. Moreover, the research on Helene Artz-Schemel and her art dealership led to a collaboration between the RKD and Museum Bredius, as Artz-Schemel's art dealership was based in the museum's building. The monographic studies on Van Zegwaard and Smith-van Stolk will be published in late 2024. Although both were active during the same period, they turned out to be completely different collectors.

Vrouwelijke handelaars en verzamelaars
1. Hisgen Bros, Portrait of collector Elisabeth Maria Tutein Nolthenius-Weymar, c. 1880, collection RKD
2. Helene Artz-Schemel, director of the Artz art gallery, collection Haags Gemeentearchief
3. Rudolf Bremmer, Portrait of Grietie Smith-van Stolk, 1927, private collection

The other half

The research was within the scope of the overarching project The other half. Women in the Dutch art world (De andere helft. Vrouwen in de Nederlandse kunstwereld), which examines the role of women in the art world in the period 1780-1980. The RKD is also continuing the line of research on women collectors in a two-year project entitled Women art collectors 1780-1980. Evelien de Visser's inventory will be supplemented with names of women who appear in the RKD's extensive collections, in this case art dealers’ archives and auction catalogues. The results will be published in the RKD Studies series containing at least fifty lemmas on women collectors.