Oxford University's dispersed collection of portraits includes unique images of individuals from all walks of life including British and foreign monarchs, leaders of nations, scientists, writers, scholars and artists, who have shaped the history of the nation both from within these shores and in the world at large. Dating from c.1450 to the present day, the collection includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, medals and photographs by celebrated artists and others of regional significance.
Of world-wide interest and significance, Oxford University's portrait collection is second in size to the National Portrait Gallery's collection, which is the largest collection of portraits in the world. Through its diverse range of unique portraits and others that relate to those in the National Portrait Gallery, the University's collection complements and extends our knowledge and enjoyment of the national portrait collection.
Often donated by distinguished individuals, the portraits shed new light on the history of the University and its interaction with other institutions, including government, monarchy and the professions. Dispersed throughout libraries, ceremonial and administrative buildings, teaching and research institutions, they provide visual histories of the foundation and development of academic disciplines and research networks within the University and elsewhere. The portraits contribute towards public understanding of the work of the University, and in the construction of its institutional identity.
Largely unpublished records in Oxford University and College archives and libraries document the commissioning, donation and reception of individual portraits in the collection.
In 2005 the University received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a one-year pilot project to deliver an online catalogue of the collections of portraits in the University's Examination Schools and at Pembroke College, and to develop a sustainable technical framework with the capacity to include the entire collection of portraits in the University of Oxford and its constituent Colleges. The website currently provides access to an integrated catalogue of portraits in the Examination Schools and at Pembroke College.
The National Portrait Gallery and Oxford Digital Library are collaborative partners in the project which is based in the Faculty of History and located in the offices of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Currently offers the following functions :
|Search or browse by:||artist|
|Links from individual entries to:||Oxford DNB articles|
|National Portrait Gallery website pages|
|Pembroke College website|
|Oxford University Examination Schools website|
|Oxford University Ashmolean Museum website|
|Oxford University Museum of the History of Science website|
|Image enhancement:||High resolution images that can be magnified and explored in detail using Zoomify|