Ludwig Burchard

Celebrated art historian and Rubens connoisseur of the 20th century

Down to the present day, Ludwig Burchard’s personal library continues to occupy a significant place within the total collection of books in the Rubenianum. His annotated photographs are central to almost every documentation file. The institute’s flagship enterprise, the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, bears not only his name but also emphatically the imprint of his work. Who was Ludwig Burchard?

Ludwig Burchard

Dr Ludwig Burchard (Mainz 1886-London 1960) studied art history in Karlsruhe, Munich, Heidelberg and Halle-Wittenberg, where he was awarded a doctorate for his thesis on Rembrandt’s prints. Burchard was attached at various times to the print rooms of Dresden and Berlin. In Berlin his associates included Wilhelm von Bode and Max Friedländer. He later worked on the Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon and the journals Kunstchronik and Zeitschrift für bildenden Kunst.

The completion of Rudolf Oldenbourg’s Rubens monograph in the series Klassiker der Kunst (1921) marked the beginning of Burchard’s lifelong specialization in Rubens. In 1935 he fled from Nazi Germany to London, where he enjoyed the patronage of Count Antoine Seilern. In 1939 Elsevier publishers announced his forthcoming six-volume Rubens catalogue. He continued work on it during and after the Second World War, assisted by Anne Popham and Fritz Grossmann, among others. In the 1950s Burchard worked on Rubens exhibitions in London and Antwerp and achieved worldwide recognition.


Burchard and Antwerp

Burchard built up a network of contacts among antiquarians and curators in Antwerp from an early stage, but after 1950 he forged particularly close ties with Frans Baudouin and Roger-A. d’Hulst. Twice he was received ceremoniously at Antwerp’s town hall, and both in 1955 and in 1956 he spent weeks in Antwerp as a guest lecturer of the Belgian Art Seminar. It was partly due to this connection that his library  and documentation were destined to be preserved in Antwerp after his death in 1960.

The Rubenianum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 by hosting a special seminar entitled ‘Picturing Ludwig Burchard (1886-1960)’.