Waller, François Gérard

Full Name: 
Waller, François Gérard
Other Names: 
François Gérard Waller
Date Born: 
04 June 1867
Date Died: 
23 November 1934
Place Born: 
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Place Died: 
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Home Country: 
Netherlands
Gender: 
male
Overview: 

Biographer of Dutch engravers; collector; maecenas. Waller was the eldest son of Meindert Johannes Waller and Maria Elisabeth Adolphine Waller-Schill. Both his parents were socially and culturally engaged citizens of Amsterdam. His father was a member of the firm Testas en Waller. The young Waller attended the Gymnasium, first in Amsterdam and later in Arnhem. During a mountain-climbing expedition in 1886, Weller nearly froze to death on the Matterhorn. The resulting lung damage impaired his health for the rest of his life. After his graduation, in 1888, he enrolled at Leiden University in the Faculty of Law. He was, however, much more attracted to art, and in 1891 he became a member of the Société d'Archéologie de Bruxelles. In 1896 he went to Paris to study art history at the École des Chartes. In the same year he returned to Amsterdam, where he obtained a voluntary position at the Amsterdam Rijksprentenkabinet under Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, the former deputy director of the Mauritshuis. Waller subsequently moved to The Hague following his appointment, in February 1897, as deputy director of the Mauritshuis. The director of the Mauritshuis, the cantankerous Abraham Bredius, felt Waller's appointment politically motivated, at the cost of Bredius' own choice, Frits Marcus. Bredius proffered his resignation (the first of multiple times). The ever-petty Bredius made the next three years nearly impossible for Waller to cooperate with him. Bredius impugned that Waller drank on the job, was not interested in art and was surreptitiously plotting with Bredius' other nemesis, Victor Eugène Louis de Stuers, head of the Department of Arts and Sciences of the Ministry of the Interior. None was borne out by the facts. In addition to his position in the Mauritshuis Waller was appointed director of the Leiden University Print room, where he reorganized the collection, set up a collection of reproductions, and acquired a number of drawings of distinctive Dutch artists. In 1898 Waller applied for the position of director of the Amsterdam Rijksprentenkabinet, as the successor of Hofstede de Groot but the position was returned to Johan Philip van der Kellen a former director of the Amsterdam Rijksprentenkabinet. In collaboration with the latter, Waller started compiling a biographical dictionary of Dutch engravers. In 1900 Waller left his difficult situation in the Mauritshuis, succeeded by Wilhelm Martin. Five years later Waller had to resign from his post in the Leiden Print room, due to his declining health. He returned to Amsterdam, where he, in 1906, became a partner in the family firm of Testas en Waller. He worked ther until 1917. He continued working on his biographical dictionary of engravers for the next five years, searching archives and writing to contemporary artists. By the early 1920s his health had deteriorated so that he abandoned the project. Waller built up several collections of art historical interest. He donated most of his collections, including his ex-libris collection (1913) and his Netherlands popular prints collection (1923) to the Rijksprentenkabinet. He also bequeathed his large collection of Dutch prints as well as several drawings to this institution. Waller designated the state of the Netherlands as his sole heir. His assets were made into the F. G. Waller Fund. The proceeds of the fund were to be used every year by the Rijksprentenkabinet, mainly for the acquisition of prints by Dutch artists. The trustees of the fund were also charged with the dictionary of engravers, Waller's life-long work, which they entrusted to W. R. Juynboll, who revised and prepared it for publication in 1938, Biographisch Woordenboek van Noord Nederlandsche Graveurs. In 1936, according to the wish of Waller, his catalog of his collection of Dutch and Flemish popular books, from 1500 up to 1830, was prepared for publication by Emma Dronckers.

Selected Bibliography: 

F. G. Waller. Biographisch Woordenboek van Noord Nederlandsche Graveurs. Uitgegeven door de beheerders van het Waller Fonds en bewerkt door Dr. W. R. Juynboll. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938; Dronkers, E. Verzameling F. G. Waller. Catalogus van Nederlandsche en Vlaamsche populaire boeken. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1936.

Sources: 

"Abraham Bredius, A Biography." Museum Bredius (website) http://www.museumbredius.nl/biography.htm; Staring, A. "Levensbericht van den Schrijver" in Biographisch Woordenboek van Noord Nederlandsche Graveurs. Uitgegeven door de beheerders van het Waller Fonds en bewerkt door Dr. W. R. Juynboll. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1938; De Hoop-Scheffer, D. "F. G. Waller 1867-1934" Het Rijksmuseum 1808-1958. Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 6 (1958): 91; Niemeijer, J. W. "Het Rijksprentenkabinet en F. G. Waller" Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 32,3 (1984): 111-117; Heijbroek, J. F. "François Gérard Waller (1867-1934), kunstkenner en collectioneur" Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 32,3 (1984): 118-135; Ekkart, R. E. O. "De collectie exlibris" (Bookplates) Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 32,3 (1984): 136-140; Heijbroek, J. F. "De collectie volksprenten" Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 32,3 (1984): 146-151 (English Summaries by Patricia Wardle, pp. 146-151); [obituaries:] Staring, A. "François Gerard Waller" Levensberichten van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde te Leiden, Jaarboek 1934-1935, pp. 201-206; B[rugmans], H. "François Gérard Waller" Maandblad Amstelodamum 23 (1936): 7.

Contributors: 
Monique Daniels