Portraiture prints & drawings

In order to help protect the health of our staff and visitors during this difficult time we have closed all of our research rooms. During this time we're not taking bookings for individual appointments or group visits.

Location: Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Open by appointment: Closed
Contact: [email protected]

The portraiture prints and drawings collection consists of 20,000 prints and around 2,000 drawings and watercolours dating from the 16th century to the present day. The print collection comprises Scottish, English and foreign sitters whereas the drawings are almost exlusively Scots.

The collection covers the range of print media (engravings, etchings, mezzotints, monoprints) and fully represents the contribution of Scottish portraitists such as Sir Henry Raeburn in their printed form. The impressive collection of European prints (English and continental) not only has intrinsic historical and aesthetic value, it also provides the wider context for the study of Scottish portraiture and portraiture in general. The collection also includes important caricatures and satires relating to aspects of Scottish history.

The drawings cover a range of media namely watercolour, gouache, pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel, chalk, crayon and biro. The collection includes an important group of late 18th century pencil drawings by John Brown, pastels by Maurice Quentin de la Tour, Allan Ramsay and Archibald Skirving, and a representative group of caricature portraits dating from the early 18th century to the present day. Many of the drawings feature in sketchbooks dating from the early 19th to late 20th century. The gallery houses a collection of sketchbooks by the Glasgow born caricaturist Emilio Coia featuring a wide variety of famous faces from the 20th century. It also includes two sketchbooks by Morris Meredith Williams comprising cartoon studies for the bronze frieze sculpted by Alice Meredith Williams for the Scottish National War Memorial. The collection also has around 400 ‘cut paper’ silhouettes, with a large group by the French artist Augustin Edouart.



Book a visit

First-time visitors will be asked to show some form of ID such as a passport or driver's licence.
There is wheelchair access to the library via a lift. 

Groups of up to 10 are welcome to visit the Library.
Group visits should be pre-booked at least four weeks in advance.

+44 (0)131 624 6407

[email protected]