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Collection Wilhelm Busch

Collection Wilhelm Busch

 The collection is the most important and the most complete of its kind. At present it comprises 347 paintings, more than 1.300 drawings from nature, the manuscripts of 51 illustrated stories, around 900 letters as well as 193 manuscripts of the artist's poetry and prose. In addition, the Museum holds an archive and a library comprising ca 2.500 books devoted to the artist.

The main body of the collection had begun to be established in the first two decades after the foundation of the Gesellschaft in 1930. These decades were favourable for acquisition as the most important part of the estate continued to be in the property of the families of Busch's  nephews  Otto, Hermann and Adolf Nöldeke, and also with the publishing houses of Braun & Schneider, and Bassermann both of which had published his illustrated stories. Acquisition, in those early days, was also made possible through financial support from the City. At the same time, a great number of works were added to the collection by donations from the artist's heirs and from private sponsors. After the War, the City was forced to reduce its support for new acquisitions. Instead, in the course of the Fifties newly founded institutions began to engage themselves. Also, private donations and legacies are now contributing to the further increase of the collection.

In 1932 the original manuscript (dated 1872) of “Die Fromme Helene” was the first important illustrated story to be added to the collection. Only a few months later the City gave the manuscript of Busch's most popular illustrated story, “Max and Moritz” (1863/64), on permanent loan. About the same time, the first two chapters of the manuscript of “Maler Klecksel” (1884) could be purchased.  This splendid beginning was followed up by the acquisition of many more prominent manuscripts that could be incorporated into the collection either on permanent loan or as the property of the Wilhelm-Busch-Gesellschaft. Among these early entries into the collection were the original drawings of “Schnurrdiburr oder Die Bienen” (1867/68), “Der Heilige Antonius von Padua” (1869), “Julchen” (1877),  “Fipps der Affe” (1878), “Die Bilderpossen” (1863), “Der Eispeter”, “Katz und Maus”, “Krischan mit der Piepe” and “Hänsel und Gretel”. At the same time, smaller but equally popular stories like “Der Hohle Zahn” (1868) or “Die Brille” (1870) joined the collection.

With the Bassermann archive in 1966 came yet another wave of excellent additions: all the drawings that at that time belonged into the property of Bassermann publishing, Munich, could be purchased for the collection - among them Reinzeichnungen of such famous illustrated stories as “Plisch und Plum” (1882), “Balduin Bählamm” (1883) and “Maler Klecksel (1884) as well as manuscripts, printing blocks, first editions and Busch letters.

From the beginning, the aim was the systematic acquisition of drawings and paintings from nature. In this way in was possible to establish a collection that documents Busch's entire creative scope and development. There is a wide range, from the early studies of the 1850s through his middle period with its masterly presentations of portraits and of nature, to his strongly emotional landscapes from the first half of the 1890s which, in their breaking away from form and outline, seem to foreshadow the abstract art of the 20. century.

The collection also holds the manuscripts of Busch's poetry and prose, thus opening further aspects of the artist's work. The original manuscripts of his poetry, “Hernach” (1892/99), “Zu guter Letzt” (1899/1903), and the manuscripts of his prose works “Eduard's Traum” (1891) and “Der Schmetterling” (1894) belong here, too. The roughly 900 original letters and his two autobiographies “Was mich betrifft” (1886) and “Von mir über mich” (1893) allow additional insight into the life and the work of Wilhelm Busch.

Promoter of the Collection

  • Calenberg Grubenhagensche Landschaft, Hannover
  •  Klosterkammer Hannover
  •  Kulturstiftung der Länder, Berlin
  •  Landeshauptstadt Hannover
  •  Land Niedersachsen
  •  Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, Hannover
  •  Otto Schäfer (†2000), Schweinfurt
  •  Stiftung Niedersachsen, Hannover
  •  Stiftung Volkswagenwerk, Hannover
  •  Verein der Förderer des Museums Wilhelm Busch – Deutsches Museum für Karikatur und Zeichenkunst e. V.
  •  as well as numerous other public and private sponsors