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Graphic Collection Department - History of the collection

Graphic arts collections of Wroclaw University Library has been created on basis of remnants of its pre-war collections and ones from former City Library of Wroclaw. From the old Royal University Library (Königliche- und Universitäts-Bibliothek) collections prevailed small number of portraits and graphic incunabula. Former City Library (Stadt-Bibliothek Breslau) was in possession of 20.000 portraits, from which to our times survived circa 800, sights collection, that remnants are now mostly in Maps Department, and only 30 in Graphic Collection Department, set of photographs, from which circa 1000 items prevailed and collection of ex-librises, from which only several remained.

After 1945 collections was supplemented with remnants of Silesian historical collections, that in 1947 created basis for Graphic Cabinet, that later, in 1949, changed name to Iconographic. To 1967 it organized scientific and propagandistic-didactical exhibitions. 3-volumed Silesian iconography register by Wanda Reychmanow has been published in 1962, that describes illustrations in Silesian periodicals published to 1945. In 1967 Iconographic Cabinet changed name for current one (Graphic Collection Department) and begun to systematically enlarged its collections by auction and antique purchases as well as by donations. From 1985 complex processing of collections is taking place, that resulted in many domestic and foreign exhibitions as well as monographic and catalog publications. Department is currently in possession of 45.345 special collections’ items divided into five groups: graphics and drawings, ex-librises, photographs, postcards and reproductions.

Prints and drawings

Collection contains 10.768 units of loose prints, in artificial albums and briefcases. Reproductive and artistic graphic from the 15th to the 20th century is represented by all noble and related techniques as well as modern ones. Geographic range includes mostly Germany, and next France, Poland, Silesia region, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Flanders, Netherlands, England, Czech and other countries, also extra-European. Collection is very differential thematically, with dominance of portraits (circa 5000, including circa 500 portraits of Silesian people) and sights (circa 2000).

Collection of prints from the 15th century consist of 13 biblical and apocryphal graphic incunabula, including 11 woodcuts from Upper and Lower German school, French, Silesian and Czech, six spotted metal-cuts (Netherlands and Upper Rhineland) and two unique prints made in batter, Upper German Christmas and Madonna and Baby. One of the most beautiful is metal-cut of Christ on Cross by Master of the Dutuit Mount of Olives (Cologne?, circa 1470) and Head of Christ on St. Veronica's kerchiefby Master St. George (Upper Rhineland, circa 1470), that surpass with expression analogical prints stored in Paris, Vienna and Prague.

From graphic from the16th century distinguished themselves renaissance edging, Polish woodcuts presenting battle scenes from Krótkiego zebrania kroniki polskiej (Short collective of Polish chronicle) and portraits by P. Hille. Flanders copperplates are represented by portraits by T. de Bry and A. Collaert as well as artificial album Vita, et Miracula Christi from 1564 with engravings by Philipp Galle basing on projects by M. van Heemskerck and A. Blocklandt. German school is represented by portraits by D. Custos as well as allegoric copperplates and biblical woodcuts by V. Solisa. Graphic from 17th and 18th century is dominated by German, Flanders, Netherlands, French and Czech copperplates’ portraits, that are represented by: P. Aubry, J. van den Berg, S. Blesendorf, J. Blandeau, J. C. Boecklin, A. Clouvert, W. J. Delff, J. Dürr, S. Furck, P. Isselburg, A. C. Kalle, I., B. and P. Kilian, M. Küssel, A. Melan, E. Nessenthaler, J. Sandrart, P. Tröschel, and from Silesia region: D. and J. Tscherning, J. B. Paravicinus, J. Lindnitz and J. Oertl, precursor of Silesian mezzotint. Very unique is artificial album Icones Imperatorum Romanorum et regum Hungariae with imaginary portraits of Roman and German-Roman emperors, cut from tableau by P. Fürst (128 items) and of Hungarian kings from tableau by H. Raab (61) as well as artificial album with Gonzaga family portraits made with copperplates by J. Sadeler from Steinwehr’s collection. Vedutas, generic, historical and religious scenes are presented by C. Cesio, G. B. Falda, M. Merian, W. Hollar, J. C. Śmiśek, J. Popel and C. D. Pietesch. In etching and copperplate excelled portraitist, such as: M. and J. M. Bernigeroth, J.F. Bause, D. Berger, G. P. Busch, J. F. Bolt, C. F. Fritzsch, D. Chodowiecki, J. S. L. Halle, E. S. Hene, I. S. Klauber, J. C. Krüger, J. D. Schleuen, J. C. Sysang, M. Haas, T. Cook. J. J. Haid has left artificial album with 100 portraits of European scientists from 1755 made with mezzotint. Artificial album from years 1751-1757 by W. C. Rückera with concentrically engraved 62 portraits of electorate archbishops of Mainz originated from Czocha castle library. Among sets of European vedutas should be listed rare etchings from Guckkastenseries as well as artificial album with Weimar’s sights by G. M. Krausa. Silesian graphic represents several artists, among them G. Böhmer, Ch. Bückling, F. B. Fabricius, J. G. Kampmüller, G. Lewicki, L. Müller and Strahowskys, also active in Poland and Czech. With Bartłomiej Strahowsky cooperated Friedrich Bernard Werner, most productive vedutas creator of Europe, that made sights etched in Augsburg and Nuremberg. In graphic from 19th century, dominated by lithography, steel engraving and rubbing woodcuts, leading role played German publications (portraits and sights) and French caricature (H. Daumier, P. Gavarni, A. C. Cham, J. Platier, F. Bouchot, E. de Beaumont). Silesian graphic is represented by vedutas artists (etching and lithography): F. B. Endler, his student C. F. Stuckart, M. Grossman and so called Kowary’s group (F. A. Tittel, C. T. Mattis, E. W. Knippel and W. Rieden). Individuality on European scale is Adolf Menzel. 20th century is era of artistic graphic. Among European artists should be mention M. Klinger, M. Laurencin, and from Polish: L. Wyczółkowski and Z. Stryjeńska. Artists from Silesia region combined artistic values with iconographic ones. Dominating was etching with dry point (S. Laboschin, E. Barkemeyer, H. Fischer-Oels, E. Fuchs). B. Zimmermann worked in rubbing woodcuts technique. Collections is supplemented with 60 Silesian copperplate plates, one steel engraving and two woodcut blocks. The oldest item from collection of drawings is Nuremberg’s tourney book (Gesellenstechen in Nürnberg 1446), manuscript illustrated with 51 pictures made with India ink and water paints, in style of “little masters”, dated to be from 1620, that honors first city tourney. It originates from Czocha castle library.

Drawing from the 18th century is represented by Lucas Müller with portrait of emperor Carl VI, painted with Indian ink in a way, that mimic etching. From 30s of the 19th century originated 73 portraits of “Königliche Kapelle“ musician from Berlin, made by its member, violoncellist, poet and drawer, E. Bocka (circa 1804-1834), that were included circa 1852 along with 13 graphical and 4 photographic portraits into artificial album that was in possession of Museum des Vereines Heimatschutz Löwenberg in Schlesien up to 1945. Artificial album of Heinricha Simona (1805-1860), Wroclaw’s lawyer, that spend years 1851-1859 in Zurich, consists of 165 drawings and prints (pencil, water colour, gouache, carbon, chalk, pastel, Indian ink, dry point and lithography) of various themes (sights, generic scenes, portraits, flora, fauna, satire, costumes and characteristic types). They represent various schools from the 18th to second half of the 19th century, mostly from Switzerland. Among great anonymous sketches, are found names such as A. Benz, M. Dinkel, M. Wocher, G. R. Koenig and Gavarni.

Examples from collection >>


Collection contains 2.658 items, including 30 from the 16th and the 18th centuries (M. H. Rentz and B. Strahowsky). Circa 1500 items are pre- (few) and post-war Polish ex-librises of artists such as: J. Agopsowicz, C. Borowczyk, S. Dawski, T. Cieślewski, J. Gielniak, A. Gołębniak, W. Jakubowski, Z. Jóźwik, W. Kościelniak, Konstanty M. Sopoćko, J. Drużycki or T. Przypkowski. From the late 19th and first part of the 20th century originated 964 items from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech and Silesia region, that represents realism, symbolism, secession and expressionism. Several dozens of them originated from collections of former City Library of Wroclaw.

European ex-librises are represented by famous artists, such as: M. Klinger, K. Kollwitz, E. Orlik, M. Ade, B. Pankok, H. Bastanier, F. von Bayros, G. Broel, A. Cossman, C. Streller, O. Ubbelohde, H. Vogeler, P. Voigt, H. Behrens, H. am Ende, O. Fischer, W. Geiger, B. Heroux, A. Kolb, Fritz Lang, A. Soder, F. Stassen, H. Struck, H. Wilm and from Silesia region by: H. Bantau, F. Erler and G. Schmedes. Dominating techniques are: lithography, woodcut, dry point, and, above all others, etching and aquatint. This ex-librises were on exhibitions in Berlin (1993) and Düsseldorf (1994).

Examples from collection >>


Collection contains 13.903 items. It consists of two parts: pre-war German photographs up from 1859 and Post-war Polish photographs. The late one is documentary material about live of Wroclaw, University of Wroclaw and Wroclaw University Library as well as, information-propagandistic sets, that includes scenes from all aspects of political and social live.

In German photographs dominating are pictures by Eduard van Delden, operating in Wroclaw from 1874, and his successor, Heinrich Götza (from 1903). Their creation is, inter alia, counting circa 2000 items documentary of Wroclaw city planning and architecture made in Atelier für Hochbau. Also large is documentation of city hall’s restoration. Rich is collection of European cities and metropolis. Also could be found several stereoscopy and projectile pictures with drawings of planned architectonic changes. Among most important photographers are: A. Pichler, E. Völkel, N. Raschkow jun., J. Jülke, C. and F. Krapp, J. Jagusch and H. Buchwald. Collection also consists of glass negatives and diapositives.

Examples from collection >>


Collection holds 22.060 postcards, mainly pre-war German vedutas of Europe (German, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, French, Silesia region) and Polish post-war sights of Silesian places.

Examples from collection >>


Collection contains 675 items of printing reproduction of European and Polish painting. In the future, it will be enlarged by selected from restricted collections (11.828) pre-war materials, inter alia, albums with postcards and reproductions of architecture from Adolph Zeller’s collections.

In books (16.694) and periodicals (2550) are also present numerous albums and briefcases from the 19th and the 20th century that contains original prints, ex-librises and photographs.

Information about systematically growing collections is available via complex catalogs, innovatory photographic catalogs and Digital Library. Securing of collections by photo-mechanical documentation is replaced by digitization and archiving on CD-ROMs. Pragmatic character of collections allows Department to take part in many scientific, cultural and medial endeavors regarding Silesian region, although topographical and thematic range of collections is unlimited.