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Prince Albert's Personal Papers

Papers relating to Prince Albert’s personal life and enthusiasms


Letter from Dr. Ernst Becker to Charles Ruland about collections of engravings in Bonn and Cologne of possible interest for the Prince Consort's Raphael collection, and other matters relating to the collection.

15 May 1860

Loose manuscript paper; mounted | 1 document (4 pages) (whole object) | RA VIC/ADDA10/85/116

Becker writes from Bonn, relating that he was told of an important collection of engravings belonging to Geheimrat Dr. Wolff in the city, but on gaining admittance to it through Professor Springer, found that Dr. Wolff collects only Van Dyck engravings, of which he has a fine collection, and portraits of doctors and scientists, but very few Italian engravings and none on the list that Becker showed him.

Becker adds that his visit nevertheless yielded two interesting results: first, Dr Wolff owns the late bookseller Weber's copy of the sale catalogue of the King of Holland's collection in The Hague, with Weber's annotations, and another copy with more sale details; as Weber was a great connoisseur, Becker has copied out all his annotations about Raphael drawings.

He added up the payments for the 121 drawings Samuel Woodburn bought at the sale, which came to £3,400; these form the bulk of Miss Woodburn's collection now. He was also able to see that Woodburn swindled the King, who had bought the drawings from him, as Woodburn's original prices for some of them were still marked on the mounts, and could therefore be compared with what the dealer paid to buy them back. Becker gives some examples.

Secondly, Dr Wolff told him of a collection of all kinds of works of art formed by a man named Wallraf in Cologne some decades earlier, which the collector had bequeathed to the city and which were now in the museum there. The collection included a very large number of engravings which were not open to the public, and little progress had been made by Professor Ramboux [the curator], in cataloguing and arranging them. Dr. Wolff, who had spent 14 days examining them, said they included very fine examples of the work of Marcantonio and his school, sometimes with several duplicates. Becker felt sure that the Prince Consort's collection could be useful in bringing order to this amorphous collection.

In return for this information, Becker would like to be able to give Dr. Wolff the answers to two questions he asked: firstly, is there a portrait of Celsus Pigafetta, a doctor from Vicenza, engraved by Martino Rota, in the Nebel collection; and secondly, is it true that there is an anatomical drawing by Leonardo in the Royal Library showing a copulating couple?

Becker further reports that the Prince Consort's contribution of 200 thaler for the Arndt Memorial has not yet been received and has perhaps been forgotten. The fund is growing fast and the plan for a memorial on Arndt's property overlooking the Rhine will be able to be carried out once it has reached 40,000 thaler. The land has already been bought by Herr Kyllmann to prevent it being auctioned.

Becker adds that Professor Springer has written an article about Raphael's Disputa that the Prince should read; he considers Springer's commentary superior to Passavant's. He has heard that a collection of photographs of the Raphaels in Windsor has come to Bonn, and asks how that happened. He reproves Ruland for not telling him that he has got married. Finally, he sends a message to Halle, and announces that he is going to the Lower Rhine Music Festival and mentions music and musicians he will hear.

Franz Ferdinand Wallraf's collection formed the basis of what became the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Professor Springer is presumably Anton Heinrich Springer, Professor of Art History in Bonn at this time. 'Halle' may be Karl Halle, later Sir Charles Hallé, founder of the Hallé Orchestra. The other musicians mentioned are Schumann, Samson, Ferdinand Hiller, [Julius] Stockhausen and [Joseph] Joachim.
  • Creator(s)

    Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88)

    (writer) [15 May 1860]

    Ruland, Charles (addressee)

  • 1 document (4 pages) (whole object)