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Paul de Wit Collection

The early history of the Leipzig collection is closely connected with Dutchman Paul de Wit's work in Leipzig. Originally, Paul de Wit (1852-1925), who came from a wealthy family in Maastricht, was to pursue a career as a wine merchant. However, he soon gave up trading as he focused on his love for music and passion for historic instruments. An extraordinary gift was to be of crucial importance for de Wit. A historic harpsichord made by Jacob Kirkman was presented to him shortly after 1880, as to repay him for accommodating a friend. This gift inspired the 30-year old music enthusiast to acquire additional antique instruments, which were still quite affordable at the time. Throughout his lifetime, de Wit demonstrated a great deal of mercantile skill. In 1888, he sold 240 instruments to the Königliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin (Berlin Royal Academy of Music); additional sales took place in 1890. However, de Wit continued his activities as a meticulous collector. His most extensive and beautiful collection was presented in Vienna in 1892. De Wit arranged countless musical instruments in a colossal work of art, which he named Allegorie der Tonkunst (Allegory of Musical Art). In 1893, de Wit opened a museum at Thomaskirchhof 16 in Leipzig.
The city was offered the chance to purchase the entire collection, however, negotiations were unsuccessful. Consequently, de Wit sold his collection of about 1000 objects to Cologne paper manufacturer Wilhelm Heyer (1849-1913) in 1905.


Perlen aus der Instrumenten-Sammlung von Paul de Wit in Leipzig, Paul de Wit, editor, Verlag Paul de Wit, Leipzig 1892.

Katalog des Musikhistorischen Museums von Paul de Wit, Paul de Wit, editor, Leipzig 1903.


Museum für Musikinstrumente der Universität Leipzig | Tel: 0341/97 30 750 | Fax: 0341/97 30 759 | mimul@uni-leipzig.de