Alumnus Donates Dutch Old Master Drawings to Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums will receive a “transformative” gift of more than 300 drawings from the Dutch Golden Age, including works by Rembrandt and his students.

Donated by alumnus George S. Abrams ’54, the collection of 330 drawings span two centuries and represent over 125 artists, the museums announced Saturday. The Harvard Art Museums now boast one of the most extensive collections of 17th-century Dutch drawings outside Europe.

“The latest gift from the Abrams family is truly transformative for our museums—indeed, for the entire Boston area, especially as the city strives to become a major destination for the study and presentation of Dutch, Flemish, and Netherlandish art,” Director of the Harvard Museums Martha Tedeschi said in a press release.

The recent contribution follows several other donations from Abrams, who is also the trustee of The Crimson’s trust. In 1999, Abrams and his wife Maida gave 110 Dutch drawings to the museums.

According to Abrams, the Harvard Art Museums was a “logical” place for the drawings.

“The Harvard Art Museums, in particular, has always been the center of teaching and education in old master drawings in the United States,” Abrams said. “My wife and I decided that we were going to put Harvard in a much stronger position on old master drawings.”

In celebration of the donation, the museums hosted a symposium during which numerous experts on 17th-century Dutch drawings spoke about the collection’s importance. The museums also held a dinner in Abrams’s honor, during which he was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in recognition of his promotion of Dutch art.

Several drawings from Abrams’s collection are currently on display at the Harvard Art Museums, where they will remain available for viewing until January 2018.

Some visitors to the museums said the exhibition was one of the primary reasons for their visit.

“I love the drawings. I think you can see the immediacy of the artist’s work,” said Rafael C. Caruso, a guest investigator at Princeton who described the exhibition as “splendid.”

Caruso said one of his favorite works in the collection was “Three Studies of a Dragonfly.”

“I am very fond of Jacques de Gehyn II,” Caruso said. Gesturing to the drawing, he added, “It transforms natural history into art.”

Abrams said he hoped the drawings will aid scholars in their research by providing them “a chance to have close contact with these works of art.”

“It’s a wonderful way to teach in the field,” Abrams said. “It’s a much more complete experience and a much more exciting experience. And it’s a way to educate the teachers and curators of the future.”

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