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Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

The Bodleian Libraries, in the University of Oxford, form the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. In addition to holding the country's second-largest collection of books and manuscripts, the Bodleian also has over 300 oil paintings – mainly portraits of sitters who have worked in or made contributions to the library or the University. The Bodleian began acquiring its portraits, mostly donated or bequeathed, soon after opening in 1602; and it displayed them in England's first public gallery. Originally all the paintings were hung together in the Old Library; a number were subsequently transferred to the Ashmolean Museum or the Examination Schools in Oxford. The Library’s reading rooms and offices still contain many paintings (these require special arrangements for viewing), while some 30 paintings are normally on public display. Although the quality of the artworks is not uniformly high, there are important or unique images. Many of the artists are anonymous; among the named artists are Marcus Gheeraerts the younger, Robert Peake, Godfrey Kneller, Peter Lely, Tilly Kettle, George Frederic Watts, Philip Alexius de László, and William Menzies Coldstream. For further information about the Bodleian Libraries see To enquire about paintings or see those not generally on display, contact

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Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford is managed by University of Oxford

University of Oxford is an Art UK Founder Partner

Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Broad Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3BG England

01865 277162

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  • 28 September 2021

    Afternoon me hearties! Come aboard and explore the 17th c. manuscript maps of the pirate William Hack! This Oxford Seminars in #Cartography talk features exciting material about the records of shipwrecks in Hack's maps and how they change over time.