August Johann Holmberg
One of a number of European paintings in Rochdale’s collection, this was part of the collection of Thomas Kay.
Thomas Kay was a pharmacist from Heywood (part of Rochdale borough) who was something of an all-around Renaissance man who collected art and was interested in education. He gave his art collection to Heywood and this became part of the borough’s collection after local government re-organisation in 1974.
Best known for his still-life paintings and portraits of the aristocracy, Holmberg’s highly detailed painting reflects the popularity of collecting art in the late nineteenth century and his personal interest as a museum curator in Munich.
Here an elderly man sits behind a desk full of objects. His attention is focused on an illuminated manuscript, which he holds in one hand and studies with the aid of a magnifying glass held in the other hand. The desk contains a marquetry wear box, glass goblet, glass jugs and books.