Art and architecture

A vast resource of printed and manuscript art survives within the covers of books in Special Collections; treasures of medical illustration and botanical art, for instance, no less than landscapes and portraits.  Political cartoons include works by Gillray, H.B. and Baring Gould.  Theories of beauty and the picturesque also feature in the holdings.  Among noteworthy collections are:

Oatley Collection

Around 10,000 architectural plans and elevations from Sir George Oatley's leading provincial practice, together with surviving letterbooks.  Commissions for churches and hospitals, as well as private residences and the University of Bristol are represented.  The collection complements the University's own records of its major buildings.

Architecture Book Collection

This collection incorporates the library of the Bristol Society of Architects, which became the core of the holdings of the Royal West of England Academy School of Architecture.  Books date back to 1523, but are still augmented with the pick of recent publications. Included are a handful of works once owned by James Gibbs (1682-1754), including depictions of Roman remains and the splendours of baroque palaces in Sweden.  

Fry Collection 

An estimated 25,000 prints, and a small number of photographs, principally of eighteenth and nineteenth century date. The collection, largely portraits but with many views, is partly housed in a series of extra-illustrated histories and biographies, of which the sets of John Latimer’s works on the history of Bristol are a fine example.

Samuel Hieronymous Grimm pen and wash drawings and watercolours of antiquities 

Drawings and watercolours housed in a magnificent extra-illustrated Dugdale’s Monasticon, formerly owned by John Jebb, bishop of Limerick.

Garden History Collection 

The Garden History Collection addresses both horticulture, and garden and landscape design, including works by such names as London and Wise, Langley, Gilpin, Repton, Loudon and Jekyll. 

Illustration of chapel interior, Wills Hall of Residence.
Chapel at Wills Hall, University of Bristol, by Oatley and Lawrence, 1928, DM1812/4/2/72.

Books on a shelf. Library search

Search for books and periodicals using Library Search.

A medieval manuscript. Online Archive Catalogue

Contains descriptions of many of our archive collections.

Bird's eye view plan of a park.
Landscape design from Batty Langley, New principles of gardening (1728).
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