A fascinating part of the Frits Lugt Collection consists of artists' letters, of which there are over 40.000. They are regarded as one of the best collections in the world. Most are written by West European artists and they date from the Renaissance to the present, but there are also some by collectors and connoisseurs. There is a very large number of French autographs, especially from the nineteenth century.

The collection covers six centuries of thoughts and deeds. The artists seem to come back to life. A weary Michelangelo confides his reflections on death to Cosimo de Medici, and Rembrandt tells Constantijn Huygens how to hang a painting so that it will be seen to best effect.

The letters enlivened with sketches are a delight. In 1506 Albrecht Dürer writes from Venice about the jealousy among his Italian colleagues, including drawings of a rose, a brush and a dog which are thought to be a play on the names of his friend Pirckheimer's mistresses. Henri Matisse's lively handwriting and the sketch of his Italian model Lorette form a striking illustration of the link between handwriting and drawing style.

Acquisitions artists' letters

Russian letters and manuscripts

At the occasion of the exhibitions Mondrian/De Stijl at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, an evening was organized on 14 February 2011 at the Centre Pompidou around the letters by Mondrian and the members of De Stijl in the collection of the Fondation Custodia:

About this event on the site of the Centre Pompidou (in French)