Great British drawings on display at the Ashmolean

Date Posted: 15/11/2014

A new exhibition set to open at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, will showcase one of the most important collections of British drawings and watercolours in the world.

Entitled Great British Drawings, the exhibition opens from 26th March to 31st August next year.

The artwork on display will range widely, from Flemish artists working in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the experiments in modernism instigated on the continent and taken up by British artists after World War One.

Great British Drawings will show more than 100 works by some of the country’s greatest artists, to trace the history of drawing in Britain. Many of the drawings are shown for the first time in public.

Among the highlights are Samuel Cooper’s portrait of Thomas Alcock (c.1650) (pictured), widely recognised as one of the most sensitive of all drawings of a face plus works by the landscape artists of the ‘golden age’ of British watercolours (c.1750-1850), including undiscovered masterpieces by John Robert Cozens and J.M.W. Turner.

Another section of the exhibition will focus on the Pre-Raphaelites and will include finished portraits and historical subjects by members of the original Brotherhood: D.G. Rossetti, Millais, and Holman Hunt, and their followers, including the romantic Knight of the Sun by Arthur Hughes.

Mr Colin Harrison, senior curator of European art, Ashmolean Museum, says: “The exhibition of Great British Drawings can only scratch the surface of the extraordinary riches of the Ashmolean’s collections.

“It will provide the visitor with an unparalleled opportunity to explore the amazing variety of drawing in Britain, from the rapid sketch in pencil or pen, to the most highly wrought watercolour.”

For more information about the Great British Drawings exhibition, visit

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