Johann Christoph Broce, born in Gerlic, almost 350 years ago received an offer to work as a home teacher in Riga. His passion from childhood was history and immortalization of places by drawing. When arriving in the Baltic territory and spending there 50 years of his life, Broce tirelessly collected and processed various historical testimonies, in the same time drawing the world around him – from portraits of his peers to accurate displays of the coat of arms on coins.
The collection by Johann Christoph Brotze includes materials he collected and systematised in 104 volumes – drawings and comments thereof, handwritings and duplicates, personal registers, topographic maps, engravings, printed matters, descriptions of places and objects connected with the history of Latvia and Livonia. The collection is made in the tradition of collecting and classifying encyclopaedic knowledge characteristic to the Enlightenment, developing the antique method in historical research. Many items of the collection serve as unique testimonies and the last credible sources left in the world for the research of lost historical sources. Therefore, the collection, which is kept at the Academic Library of the University of Latvia, has an absolute uniqueness in its thematic sphere, quality of performance and an unmatched content. Johann Christoph Brotze managed to leave a testimony for history, which forms a comprehensive information vessel with characteristic signs of an entire period in the territory of Latvia. The collection of drawings and descriptions is a unique opportunity to expand the perceptions of Europeans about Latvia and Estonia and their significance exceeds the local borders.
Visual material: Johann Christoph Brotze (1. View of part of St. James’s Church and Mazā Pils street, done with watercolour, 1785; 2. View of Zasumuiža or Šteinhauera paper mills near Rīga’s Pārdaugava in 1794, done with tooth washing; 3. Grāvenheide at Jugla lake, around 1797, done with watercolour; 4. Gold-plated silver cup of the Riga Swedish congregation, around 1809; 5. Riga Castle from the Daugava river in 1767, done with watercolour around 1818).