Inspiring and visually striking, the Baillieu Library Print Collection includes approximately 9,000 individual works of art. It encompasses prints (engravings, woodcuts etc.) and also print albums, drawings, paintings, tools and books. The majority of the collection is European, featuring such renowned artists as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt and William Hogarth. It is representative of Western printmaking practitioners and techniques (relief, intaglio and planographic) dating from the 15th to the 19th century, but it also includes examples from the 20th and 21st century.
History and development
The collection was first established in the Baillieu Library in 1959 through a gift by Dr John Orde Poynton of approximately 3,700 Old Master prints dating from 1460 to 1850. Works of art by high caliber artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Jacques Callot, Rembrandt van Rijn and William Hogarth were included in this major gift. The important Sadeler albums, which were collected by Elizabeth Seymour Percy Northumberland, were purchased in 1962. The collection was further enhanced in 1964 with Harold Wright’s bequest of half his Lionel Lindsay print collection and prints by Lindsay’s British contemporaries. In 1995 Dr Pierre Gorman gifted his collection of prints relating to Cambridge. The collection development has been guided by these individual collectors and continues to grow in scope and depth through additional donations and purchases. The primary role of the collection is its rich resourcefulness for teaching, research and exhibition.
Viewing the Print Collection
The collection is available to study for research projects, such as thesis and scholarly articles. The Print Collection also offers a limited number of internships throughout the year, for further details please see the Cultural Collections Projects Program.
Important new research, conference proceedings and exhibitions produced from the Baillieu Library Print Collection have been produced in article and book formats. See key publications below and a complete list on the Museums & Collections website.
Object based learning with the Print Collection
The collection actively seeks and supports curriculum at the University. It has a strong teaching tradition particularly in the disciplines of paper conservation, art historical and curatorial studies. Yet images are also relevant to disciplines beyond the visual arts. Prints may be utilised during classes and for assessment tasks; prior discussion and booking of prints and rooms in the Baillieu Library with the curator is essential. Enquires about object based learning with prints are always welcome.
Thank you once more for the support that the Baillieu Library Print Collection provided toArt History: Theory and Controversy. Students loved the opportunity to engage directly with historic prints and nearly 100 of our 143 students chose to write about works from the collection. The essays showed their enthusiasm for the material as they discussed details about the paper, the visual dimensions of objects and other tactile qualities that can only come out of direct engagement with the works themselves.
Why study prints?
Hands-on experiential learning offers unique and meaningful interactions between people and objects. Students currently utilise the collection to study materiality, printmaking techniques and technology. They also work in groups to devise exhibitions, learning about the challenges and skills required for professional settings. Comparative visual analysis between images develops foundation skills for research. The application of art theory to prints provides practical academic exercise. Students also benefit from describing the subject of the prints in detail; these observation skills are useful across many disciplines and prints have been used by medical students and veterinary students, for example to apply the visual observation skills to enhance their x-ray reading. Discovering individual artists, the historical events reflected through the prints and perspective methods, also highlights social, economic, financial and mathematical concepts.