Cambridge University Library is the main library of the University holding around 8 million items. It is a legal deposit library thus entitled to claim a copy of every publication in printed form published in the UK and Ireland. Founded in 1416, the Library was originally housed in the University's 'Old Schools' until it moved to the current site constructed between 1931 and 1934 by the architect Giles Gilbert Scott. The University Library’s pictures fall into three main groups: a series relating to Library personnel, and history of its collections; pictures belonging to the Bible Society, and deposited here with its Library and archives; and a similar series of portraits deposited by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) along with its archives.
In the first group there are three portraits of people associated with the acquisition of the Royal Library in the early eighteenth century: two copy portraits by Isaac Whood of John Moore, Bishop of Ely, the collector, and Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend, statesman, and a full-length state portrait of George I, purchaser and donor. Another full length by Philip Reinagle depicts the late eighteenth-century Cambridge bookseller John ‘Maps’ Nicholson. There are portraits of several Librarians, notably John Singer Sargent’s Francis Jenkinson, and oils on wood, of Sir Nicholas Bacon, 1579, Henry, Prince of Wales, Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and George, 1st Duke of Buckingham, by Mierevelt.
The Bible Society’s collection is mostly of past Presidents, including Anthony, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, by Sir John Everett Millais, and Dudley, 3rd Earl of Harrowby, by Herman Herkomer. There is also a history painting, 'The Last Chapter (Bede on his Deathbed)' by James Doyle Penrose. The SPCK series is of founders, secretaries and patrons.
Not all paintings are on display. If you wish to see a particular painting, please contact the collection.
West Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB3 9DR England
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