Prints and Drawings
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a print cabinet was an essential element of a gentleman's library. This usually consisted of portfolios of prints or print albums arranged either by subject matter or, more often, by artist or engraver.
The European print collection formed by Chester Beatty is in this tradition. He started to collect prints around 1910 and he was particularly interested in the works of northern European artists, especially the engravings and woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer and the group of engravers known as the 'Little Masters' (e.g. Heinrich Aldegrever and George Pencz).
The collection includes examples of work by artists such as Wierix, Leyden, Hollar, Collaert, Piranesi, Goya, and Frye, as well as print series, like the satirical prints of the French Revolution and prints from both the nineteenth and twentieth century editions of the French fashion magazine Journal des Dames et des Modes.
Beatty's collection grew to over 26,000 prints, approximately 4,000 of which are individual sheets with the remainder mounted in albums. This figure does not include the hundreds of prints in the Rare Books Collection.
The collection of drawings is relatively small as Chester Beatty donated most of this collection to the National Gallery of Ireland.