- Please reserve your documents 2 working days in advance.
- You can consult them in the General reading room.
- Seat reservation is required.
It is estimated that KBR’s graphic collection, which is kept at the Prints Department, contains more than 1 million objects, making it by far the largest collection of graphic works in Belgium and one of the finest in the world.
The Prints Department has a large and valuable collection of graphic works of all kinds and produced by all sorts of techniques: engravings, etchings, woodcuts, lithographs…
Over time, the word ‘print’ has become synonymous with every kind of image reproduced on paper, parchment or textile. Accordingly, as well as prints in the narrowest meaning of the word, the collections also include other ensembles. In addition to drawings and photographs, there are posters, bookplates, pilgrimage pennants and postcards.
The collection also includes illustrated books on art and works in which the images outweigh the text.
The print collection can be accessed online by means of the online catalogue.
Searching in the catalogues
The historical catalogue cards have been digitised and added to the online catalogue. New descriptions —in English, according to recent international standards— of important collections of prints and drawings are incorporated into the catalogue.
You can limit your search to prints and drawings by choosing Type of document > Iconographic document.
You can search the collection:
- by the name of the artist
- by keyword (only in French)
- by free text (only in French)
All the 15th century prints have been recently re-entered into the catalogue, and the same applies to graphic works by Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, the Wierix family, the Collaert family, Maarten van Heemskerck, Hendrick Goltzius, Anthony van Dyck and Rembrandt. We are systematically digitising these collections. We also described and digitised a major part of our old drawings (by masters born before 1780) for the AGORA Drawings on Web project.
The former Low Countries have a prominent place in the development of graphic art and consequently, it is not surprising that the Flemish and Dutch schools are particularly well represented in our collection. In addition, since its founding, the Prints Department has systematically collected the graphic work of Belgian artists.
Highlights of the collection include drawings and prints by and after masters such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Pieter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert. The Prints Department also holds a number of smaller graphic ensembles and drawings of the French, German, Italian, British and Spanish schools.
Non-Western schools are also represented in our collection, including an important ensemble of Japanese prints and an exceptional collection of Congolese drawings dating from the first half of the 20th century.
Expanding the collection
The collection has grown through purchases, donations and long-term loans. Living Belgian artists and historical documents connected to Belgium and Belgian communities have priority above other acquisitions for practical reasons and due to the limits of our budget.
Moreover, we are attempting to fill in the gaps in our collection, especially those related to prints produced in Belgium and the southern regions of the former Low Countries.
Many of the documents in the collection are very fragile and they cannot be displayed permanently to the public, which is why the Prints Department regularly organises exhibitions based on its collections, both inside the Library and elsewhere.
The Fin-de-Siècle Museum in Brussels has a permanent exhibition that features a number of works on paper, all from KBR’s extensive collections. The pieces on display date from the period between 1880 and 1914.
Works from the Prints Department are also often lent to prestigious exhibitions, both in Belgium and abroad.