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Portrait collection professors

Senate chamber

The University of Groningen has an important collection of portraits, like many other universities in The Netherlands and Europe. They are exhibited in the Senate chamber and Faculty rooms of the Academic Building.

Faculty rooms: new portraits

The university is committed to expanding the collection with portraits of professors from contemporary artists and 15 portraits a year have been added since 2000. More than 100 have been donated in the last seven years and several criteria are used for organizing. The senate chamber is full and more recent portraits are now hung in the respectivily faculty chambers.

Senate chamber: oldest portraits

The oldest portraits in the Senate chamber date from 1618. They include the first rectores magnifici and professors, Ubbo Emmius , Hermann Ravensberger, Cornelis Pijnacker and Nicolaus Mulerius .

At first unsuccessful attempts were made to get professors to pay for their own portraits. In 1850 the new Academic Building was opened and the senate decided then to open a portrait gallery featuring paintings of all the professors, that they had each paid for out of their own pocket. Jan Ensing, a painter from Groningen (1819-1894), painted all nineteen professors in 1854.

This series formed the basis of the senate chamber gallery which was enlarged by works from other artists. Efforts were also made to find portraits of earlier professors. Professor Baart de la Faille donated a portrait of ­Ubbo Emmius in 1851. By 1857 twelve portraits of late professors had been donated by their heirs.

In truth, not every new professor donated a portrait and soon there were no more paintings of living in the gallery. Most of the newer portraits were painted posthumously, based on photographs. The Groningen painters Johannes H. Egenberger, Hinderikus en Franciscus H. Bach painted the majority of these portraits.

In 1906 a fire burnt the Academic Building to the ground, but the portraits were saved. When the current Academic Building was opened in 1909 they were hung once more in the senate chamber.

A number of truly beautiful paintings are displayed including the posthumous portrait of Wijbrand Adriaan Reiger by Franciscus H Bach, the portrait of Pieter Hendrik Schoute by Thérèse van Duyl-Schwartze (1852-1918), Jacobus Cornelis Kapteyn by Jan Pieter Veth (1864-1925), Antoon Gerard Roos by Johan Dijkstra (1896-1978) and Willem Hendrik Arisz by Jacob Bruijn (1906-1989).


  • R.E.O. Ekkart en J. Schuller tot Peursum-Meijer, Groninger academieportretten, catalogus van de portretten in het Academiegebouw en de Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen (Groningen 1978).
  • Jolanda Oosterheert, In vol ornaat. Vier eeuwen Groningse senaatsgalerij (Groningen 2009).
Last modified:13 December 2023 10.58 a.m.
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