We have two significant collections centred on 18th- and 19th-century British copper and steel engravings, a time when Britain led the world in this art form. We also hold a collection donated by the York Art Gallery.
In addition, we have an extensive collection of books and images on stained glass which supports the teaching and research undertaken in Stained Glass Studies, a University centre of excellence.
George W. Smith amassed a considerable collection of books and prints illustrative of British engraving and painting in the 18th- and 19th-centuries, which he used in writing James Heath: engraver to kings and tutor to many (1989). After his death in 1995, the collection was donated to the university by his family.
The prints and associated materials in the Smith Collection are housed in the Borthwick Institute for Archives.
The collection was amassed by John Heath and focuses on the Heath family, engravers for 200 years.
While at Oxford, he was given 'Heath's Book of Beauties' published in 1813 which sparked a life long journey to collect as many James Heath engravings as possible.
Heath, who was ambassador to Chile 1981-2 during the Falkland’s conflict, died in 2009 and in his will left his collection to the University.
The books were collected for the engravings and for their fine bindings. The Heath collection complements the George Smith books also in Special Collections, and together they form a considerable collection of books and prints illustrative of British engraving and painting in the 18th- and 19th-centuries.
Donated by the city's art gallery, the collection is very strong in painting, sculpture and graphic arts and includes many exhibition catalogues.
18th- to 20th-century British painting is particularly well represented, with many books on Constable, JMW Turner, George Stubbs and LS Lowry, to name just a few.