The VU University Amsterdam is a general university strongly rooted in the Protestant tradition. Research into the religious, scientific, historical, cultural, and political aspects of this tradition is a main part of the scholarly work carried out. The Special and Historical Collections department of the VU University Library (UB VU) supports this academic research by collecting important sources. These include, besides manuscripts and printed editions, portraits on paper of representatives of the Protestant tradition, mainly Dutch (but naturally Calvin is included).
The approximately 1500 portraits, executed between 1600 and 1900, were produced using various techniques (drawing, mezzotint, engraving, lithography, photography, etc.). A small part of the collection consists of clippings from illustrated periodicals.
The larger part of the portraits were collected by Mr. Hendrik Bos (1881-1970), owner of a timber company, bibliophile and former director of the VU University. A smaller part was acquired by trade.
Cataloguing and digitization
Between 1990-1992 the portraits were put in order and catalogued. To make the collection available to students, researchers and other interested persons as soon as possible, the emphasis was placed on identifying the sitters rather than on dating and determining the techniques used. The collection has been digitized thanks to grants supplied within the framework of the project Geheugen van Nederland.