An Amateur’s Passion: Lord Fitzwilliam’s Print Collection
9 Aug 2016 – 29 Jan 2017
Free to all
The museum's founder was also an enthusiastic print collector, this show selects some of the most fascinating examples.
As a student at Cambridge in the 1950s, Nicholas Goodison frequented the Fitzwilliam Museum, which inspired a life-long passion for fine art. This year he and his wife gave the museum a pair of chairs by the furniture maker John Makepeace. It was the 107th gift they have made to the Fitzwilliam through Art Fund.
Their generosity and public spirit are very much in keeping with the ethos on which the museum was founded in 1816, when Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion, and a graduate of Trinity Hall, bequeathed to the university a collection of paintings, among them works by Titian and Veronese, books and illuminated manuscripts, as well as autograph scores by Handel and Purcell.
He had begun to collect Old Master prints in his early twenties – a passion matched only by his love of a Parisian dancer, Mademoiselle Zacharie, with whom he had at least three children – and by the time of his death he owned about 40,000.
Among them are works by some of the greatest printmakers of all time – Dürer, Goltzius, Rembrandt – but he also collected relatively unknown artists, which he pasted into 198 albums, which are the basis of this bicentenary exhibition. They were, almost literally, the death of him, for he died, aged 71, after a fall from his library steps, in which he broke his leg.