Bodleian Portraits Online

Over 300 paintings in the Bodleian Libraries can now be viewed online at the BBC website, Your Paintings. The digital images were made by the Public Catalogue Foundation, a charity dedicated to making the art owned and held in public collections more accessible.

A Little Girl Reading  (unknown artist), from the collections of the Bodleian Library
A Little Girl Reading (unknown artist) [Bodleian Library collections]

The paintings in Bodleian collections are principally portraits. They depict authors of some of the library’s treasured books and manuscripts, as well as the founder Thomas Bodley (1545-1613) himself, donors and librarians and the all-important reader of books.

Others portrayed in Bodleian paintings include:

Explorer and privateer Martin Frobisher (1535?-1594)

in Bodleian collections: Letter of, in papers of the Herrick Family: Summary Catalogue 39669.

Author Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

in Bodleian collections: A draft manuscript of Frankenstein
see the list of Mary Shelley’s Correspondence and papers in the Abinger Collection

Composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

in Bodleian collections: Schilflied manuscript with watercolour by the composer

William Cecil (1520–1598), Baron Burghley  by Marcus Gheeraerts the younger (attributed to) [collections of the Bodleian Library]
William Cecil (1520–1598), Baron Burghley
by Marcus Gheeraerts the younger (attributed to) [collections of the Bodleian Library]

Most of the paintings housed in the Bodleian Library are currently accessible to visitors only by appointment. Visitors wishing to see an individual painting should apply to:

Bodleian Libraries Exhibitions Section

Images from the Your Paintings site can be downloaded for personal research use. See the FAQ ‘What can I do with the images on the Your Paintings site?’ for information about using images from the BBC Your Paintings website.

High-resolution digital images may be ordered from Bodleian Library Imaging Services, (see order form), giving the Accession Number (available in the Additional Information about each painting).

Your paintings screenshot