The history of the graphic collection

The Print Room was established by Duke Carl I of Brunswick and Lüneburg (1713-1780) as part of the “Herzogliches Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett” which was opened in 1754.

The basis of this collection was formed by works sent from the library of Duke Augustus the Younger in Wolfenbüttel and from the collections of the Dukes Anton Ulrich, Ferdinand Albrecht, Ludwig Rudolph and the Duchess Elisabeth Sophie Marie. In addition, Duke Carl actively acquired productions of contemporary printmakers from Germany, England and France, which reflected his main interest. Carl’s son Carl Wilhelm Ferdinand (1735-1806) was the last ducal collector. The Print Room owes, amongst other works, the ten-volume Piranesi edition to him which he was given as a present by the Vatican during his grand tour in 1766.

The inventory of prints from the 15th to the 19th century experienced a considerable boost in 1910 by the bequest of the important print collector August Vasel (1848-1910) from Brunswick. His 10,000 high-quality prints include the complete “Iconographie” by Van Dyck, the complete works of Chodowiecki and selected examples of color prints. In 1928 the Print Room was given the print collection of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel which also comprises roughly 10,000 sheets. This inventory contains numerous unica (i.e. works of which there is just one print) and “Rarissima” (very rare sheets) of Renaissance prints, such as the 86 proof copies of the “Triumphal Procession of Maximilian” by Altdorfer and Burgkmaier. 1,000 drawings, among them numerous designs for 16th century goldwork, as well as the drawings by the landscape painter Pascha Johann Friedrich Weitsch also came from Wolfenbüttel.