From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A private collection is a privately owned collection of works, usually a collection of art. If seen in a museum alongside a work or describing said work, it signifies that piece of art in a museum is not actually owned by that museum, but is on loan from an independent source. This source will usually be an art collector, although it could be any curatorial platform. Art collecting developed during the Renaissance and continues to the present day. Originally nobility were the only ones who collected art, but later other wealthy industrialists adopted the habit.
Famous art collections
The Princely Family of Liechtenstein had works by such artists as Hals, Raphael, Rembrandt and Van Dyck, a collection containing some 1,600 works of art, but were unable to show them since 1945 when they were smuggled out of Nazi Germany. The works were finally shown after nearly 60 years in storage.
Some important 19th/20th century collections remain whole:
- The Phillips Collection went on display in Washington, DC in 1921.
- Sergei Shchukin, was an important Russian art collector, mainly of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist .
- The Freer Collection became an important part of The Smithsonian -- the Freer Gallery of Art.
- Other important collections such as The Vess Collection were broken up among family members over time. When this happens, it is a large loss to those interested in art as the initial vision of the collector is lost.