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To be explored through a major new digitisation project

Dr Ernst Becker

Copy of letter to Baron Bentinck van Nijenhuis regarding the Raphael project 25 June 1859

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This is a copy retained by Dr Ernst Becker, Prince Albert's librarian, of his letter to Arnold Adolf Baron Bentinck van Nijenhuis, the Dutch ambassador in London. It is one of many letters to diplomats, aristocrats, royalty and gallery directors across Europe, as Prince Albert sought to realise his vision for building up a comprehensive overview of the creative output of Raphael. The letter explains clearly both how the Prince hoped to accomplish this collection, and the purpose of the exercise.

For all of its historical fascination with a Renaissance artist, the project was actually very modern and forward looking. Becker outlines the use of the new medium of photography to capture images of works by and after Raphael and to the need for them to be shared so that the general public, and artists in particular, could see and learn from the different versions and images by the great man. Here the specific hope was to enlist Bentinck's support for securing the participation of the Teyler Museum in Haarlem.