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PhD Ceremony A. Ott (CHS), Verzameldrift

When:Th 07-07-2022 15:00 - 16:00
Where:Academy building

Mr. Drs. A. (Antoon) Ott will defend his doctoral thesis on Thursday 7 July 2022.

Biografie van Nanne Ottema (1874-1955)


  • Prof. Dr J.W. Renders
  • Prof. Dr G.T. Jensma

Nanne Ottema (1874-1955) was an ambitious, successful notary public in the Frisian capital, Leeuwarden. In his day he was also one of the most prolific collectors in the Netherlands. His will bequeathed his exceptionally diverse collection – some of it now housed at the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics, which he founded – and his fortune to the Ottema-Kingma Foundation.

The study reveals Ottema’s motives for collecting, how he went about it and why he undertook so many other activities. This story is told against the background of the times in which he lived, the cultural and social circles he moved in and the means he had at his disposal. The not always decorous way in which Ottema acquired his objects is also discussed.

Collecting was popular and common in Ottema’s time, partly because antiques were fashionable. He collected objects in order to preserve the Friesland of the past, which was in danger of disappearing. But he probably had more irrational motives as well.

He left secondary school at an early age, which prevented him from continuing his studies and left him with a deep-seated lifelong need to prove himself. This urge is reflected in his large-scale collecting activities, but also in his many publications, numerous lectures and extensive committee work. Through them he became a dominant cultural player in Friesland.

The Second World War marked a watershed in Ottema’s life. After it ended he was no longer able to keep up with the changing world around him. In his later years he would become increasingly unsympathetic towards those around him.During his lifetime Nanne Ottema was a well-known figure, but nowadays his name is really known only to specialists. This biography reconstructs how he made his reputation – and then squandered it. Writers after his death increasingly contributed towards a sectarian, romanticised and sometimes caricatured image of the collector. But that turns out to be based mainly upon Ottema's atypical post-war years.

The University Library publishes the thesis digitally after the defence ceremony.