In the coming summer the Wallraf will set out on an investigation into its own past. For the first time in its long history Cologne’s first ever museum will showcase its outstanding Jesuit Collection, which already entered the museum as a permanent loan in the 1880s. This collection of around 500 works, together with the drawings amassed by Ferdinand Franz Wallraf, has to this day constituted the foundation of the Print Collection with its over 65,000 works.

On the basis of ninety particularly impressive drawings, the exhibition will sound out the singular character of the Jesuit Collection. Was it purely didactic? What criteria did the order apply when collecting? Did the yardsticks of quality and connoisseurship play a decisive role, or did the content tip the balance? And finally: Where did the Jesuits acquire their drawings? Over and beyond this the exhibition will theme the Jesuits' concept of the image, because the order developed its very own religious visual culture.

After Pope Clement XIV disbanded the Society of Jesus on 21 July 1773, their art collection was taken to Paris. In the 1880s the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds, at that time the legal successor to the order, managed to bring the collection back to the Rhine and made a permanent loan of it to the Wallraf, where it now resides.