Peterhouse is the oldest of the Cambridge colleges, founded by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely in 1284 and granted its charter by Edward I. As a charitable institution dedicated to education and research, the College has survived the Reformation, Civil War and the upheavals of every century since. It remains the smallest college in terms of number of Fellows and students.
A highlight of its collection of oils is the series of 'panel paintings', commissioned by the College from the 1560s featuring Masters and benefactors. Equally noteworthy is the portrait of Edmund Keene, Master (1748–1754), by Johann Zoffany, and George Romney's portrait of the Knightbridge Professor and Senior Fellow of Peterhouse, George Borlase (1742–1809). Other artists who have portrayed members of the college include William Quiller Orchardson, Lowes Dickinson, Hubert von Herkomer, Ruskin Spear, and Lawrence Gowing. There are also a few paintings more unusual for a college collection, such as an unattributed portrait of Charles I ‘as King and Martyr’, a painting of college rooms in older days by R. B. Harraden, and an evocative image of a 'Home Scene' by Marga von Am Burger that depicts a young soldier in a light-filled drawing room in 1916.
Access to paintings is normally restricted to those involved in academic scholarship or research. It is stressed that the paintings at Peterhouse are not in public ownership. In accordance with the charitable aims of the College, which is a private institution, we are including our paintings on this website to widen public awareness and for the benefit of scholarship. Access to paintings is normally restricted to those involved in academic scholarship or research. Requests should be made to The College Secretary, Peterhouse, CB2 1RD.