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Marjan and Gerard Unger Donate Dutch Jewellery Collection to Rijksmuseum
Paul Derrez, "Pills", 1996.

AMSTERDAM.- The Rijksmuseum has received an exceptional donation of Dutch jewellery. In celebration of the conferral of her doctorate, art historian and publicist Marjan Unger donated to the Rijksmuseum nearly 500 pieces of Dutch jewellery which she had personally collected over the last few decades. The collection, which covers the period 1905-2008, with a focus on the years 1930-1970, fits in perfectly with the Rijksmuseum’s existing collection. Thanks to the donation, when the Rijksmuseum reopens in 2013 following the renovations, it will boast the only Dutch jewellery collection offering an overview from the 8th century to today. Internationally, Dutch jewellery is known for its distinctive appearance and high quality.

The collection is of particular art historical and historical interest. Ms Unger has collected modern Dutch jewellery since 1980. She also collected older pieces, primarily focusing on the period 1930-1970, which was and still is particularly underrepresented in Dutch museum collections. Marjan and Gerard Unger’s collection stands out from others due to the academic approach taken. Thanks to years of intensive research, the collection includes pieces by prominent designers, jewellers and other pre-1965 leaders in the field.

In reference to the use of gold which the artist reintroduced to modern jewellery in the mid-eighties, a pendant by visual artist Robert Smit (1941) bears the title Sleeping Beauty. Pieces by Joseph Citroen (1891-1972) and Chris Steenbergen (1920-2007) demonstrate that prior to Smit, original and modern art works were also created from precious metals by silver and goldsmiths working as visual artists in this medium. Historical themes crop up in brooches bearing slogans such as Free Nations Never Die and paying tribute to the liberators of the Netherlands. ‚Pills‛ by the proprietor of Galeri Ra, jewellery designer Paul Derrez (1950), is a powerful historical symbol. The use of shape and colour reflects the exuberant party culture and associated drug abuse.

From 1995 to 2006, Marjan Unger (1946) worked as Head of the Free Design Department at the Sandberg Institute, which offers postgraduate courses in association with the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. During the eighties she was editor-in-chief of the free design magazine Bijvoorbeeld and was involved in the Precious Metals Department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. She was Director of the Stichting Dutch Form foundation from 1991. Her book Dutch Jewellery in the 20th Century [Het Nederlandse sieraad in de 20ste eeuw] was published in 2004 and was the first product of her doctoral research which she started in 1995 and will finish on 17 March 2010 with Jewellery in context, a multidisciplinary framework for Dutch jewellery [Sieraad in context, een multidisciplinair kader voor de beschouwing van het Nederlandse sieraad]. To mark the occasion, she donated her collection, which served as reference material for her book, to the Rijksmuseum.

Wim Pijbes, Rijksmuseum Director in Chief: ‘The Rijksmuseum is absolutely delighted with this unusual private collection which was the product of so much knowledge and passion. The donation of this extensive, high quality and personal jewellery collection from Marjan and Gerard Unger continues a rich tradition of private collections which have made their way to the museum in the past.’

A small selection of the collection from Marjan Unger will be on display in the Philips Wing from 16 March 2010.

The Rijksmuseum | Dutch Jewellery | Marjan Unger |

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