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Paintings, Drawings and Prints

A notable collection of several hundred oil portraits spans the 16th century to contemporary works. In addition to royal and other portraits from the time of Henry VI onwards, there is the group of so-called 'leaving portraits' of young Etonians, many of whom later became famous. These were painted by some of the leading portraitists of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Thomas Hudson, Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Benjamin West, William Beechey, John Hoppner and Thomas Lawrence. The majority of these portraits are displayed in the various historic rooms of the college buildings. The tradition of leaving portraits has been revived in modern times, and there is now a growing collection of portraits of distinguished Etonians commissioned from leading portraitists such as Derek Hill, Paul Brason, Peter Kuhfeld, and Andrew Festing. Amongst other notable oil paintings in the collection are an early 17th-century panoramic View of Venice by Odoardo Fialetti, and George Frederick Watts’ Sir Galahad presented to Eton by the artist in 1897.

The core collection of the fine collection of English watercolours results from gifts and bequests made by Old Etonian collectors. It contains examples of the best-known watercolourists of the 18th and 19th centuries as well as rare drawings by less familiar artists. Amongst artists represented are Gainsborough, J.S. Cotman, Alexander and J.R. Cozens, Thomas Girtin, J.M.W. Turner, Francis Towne, Paul Sandby, Thomas Rowlandson and Samuel Palmer. These are housed in the Print Room, together with an extensive collection of mezzotint portraits and topographical prints. The substantial 18th-century collection of drawings after the antique formed by Richard Topham survives in its original arrangement in College Library.

Items from the collection are frequently lent to outside exhibitions, and selections of watercolours and drawings are displayed in exhibitions open to the public within the college. Access to the Print Room for scholars and researchers is by appointment with the Keeper of Paintings, Prints and Drawings (Dr Nicola Pickering), Eton College, Windsor SL4 6DW, tel: 01753 370 598. Click here to email