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'.
Beatty's collection grew to nearly 35,000 prints, approximately 5,000 of which are loose sheets and the remainder mounted in albums.
This figure does not include the hundreds of prints that are found in the illustrated books or prints separately mounted in extra-illustrated volumes.
The collection of Old Master drawings is very small as Chester Beatty donated most of this collection to the National Gallery of Ireland.