Christ Church Picture Gallery
Christ Church Picture Gallery
(Entrance via Oriel Square)
01865 276 172
01865 202 429
Christ Church is unique among the Oxford and Cambridge colleges in possessing an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings, housed in a purpose-built Gallery of considerable architectural interest in itself.
General John Guise bequeathed his collection of over 200 paintings and almost 2000 drawings to his former college, where it arrived after his death in 1765. This extraordinary gift enabled Christ Church to introduce art into Oxford education without the necessity to travel to Italy or to gain access to stately homes, which still held the majority of art collections in the country. At that date the collection was unequalled by any other Oxford institution.
The collection was reinforced by the subsequent gifts by the Hon. William Fox-Strangways (37 paintings, given in 1828 and 1834), including Filippino Lippi’s ‘The Wounded Centaur’, and by the family of the poet Walter Savage Landor (26 paintings, given in 1897).
A number of subsequent gifts and bequests of paintings enabled Christ Church’s art collection to grow, until today it consists of some 300 paintings and almost 2000 drawings. The purpose-built gallery conceived to house the collection was designed by the architects Powell and Moya and was opened in 1968 by Her Majesty the Queen. Previously the paintings had been mainly hung in the Library.
October - May
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday, 10.30am - 1pm & 2 - 4.30pm
Sunday, 2 - 4.30pm
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday, 10.30am - 5.pm
Sunday, 2 - 5pm
July, August, September
Monday- Saturday, 10.30am - 5.pm
Sunday, 2- 5pm
Please note that the gallery is closed on Tuesdays from October to June.
- Museums Association
The internationally renowned drawings collection in the Picture Gallery at Christ Church is regarded as one of the most important private collections of Old Master drawings in the country and includes work by the masters; Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dürer, Raphael and Rubens. For reasons of conservation the entire drawings collection cannot be permanently on show, but a selection of drawings is always on view. These small in-house exhibitions (see menu on the left) are changed about every three months to enable the public to see a varied selection from this part of the collection.
The collection is strongest in Italian art, from the 14th to the 18th century. Most of the early Italian panel paintings came in the gift by Fox-Strangways and reflect his taste for 14th century Italian panel painting, a preference which was unusual at that time. A number of these early religious panels are painted by now anonymous masters, but they allow the viewer to trace the beginnings of the professional ‘artist’ as we know him. Later works in the collection include paintings by highly acclaimed artists such as Filippino Lippi, Tintoretto, Veronese, Annibale Carracci and Salvator Rosa. Additionally, there are also some remarkable works by northern painters such as Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals and Hugo van der Goes.
The internationally renowned drawings collection in the Picture Gallery at Christ Church is regarded as one of the most important private collections of Old Master drawings in the country and includes work by many masters of the calibre of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dürer, Raphael and Rubens. For reasons of conservation the entire drawings collection cannot be permanently on show, but a selection of drawings is always on view. These small in-house exhibitions are changed about every three months to enable the public to see a varied selection from this part of the collection.
Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Religion
Key artists and exhibits
- Filippino Lippi
- Annibale Carracci
- Salvator Rosa
- Anthony van Dyck
- Frans Hals
- Hugo van der Goes
Mounts, Mats & Marks: How collectors took ownership of their drawings
- 12 September 2014 — 2 February 2015 *on now
This small display will answer some often-asked questions by our visitors about inscriptions, numbers, stamps and borders on drawings.
This visible history left on the paper preoccupies curators and art historians, but the detail of it can become boring to the uninitiated. In a smaller dose, however, it has the making of a detective story. These signs provide important clues in solving the mystery of how these fragile objects - sometimes just snippets of paper - have survived for so many centuries. It also shows how collectors looked after their precious objects, by pasting them on sheets of paper or sticking them in albums and marking them against theft.
Goddesses: Designing Female Beauty in the Renaissance and Baroque
- 12 September — 23 December 2014 *on now
How does one depict Venus, the goddess of love? What does Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, look like or Diana, the goddess of the hunt? How do these divine figures relate to the appearance of mortal females? These are questions which lead artists to create faultless faces and appearances and to invent an ideal beauty in the taste of their time.
This is not gender specific – male as well as female ideals were pursued, but male models from which to study and then ultimately create an ideal body or face were usually more easily available. Proportion studies, for example, were mainly calculated with male figures in mind. A female proportion study from the 16th century by the Italian artist Talpino is the only one of its kind and is included in the exhibition. Prints by the German master Albrecht Dürer show his idea of the ideal female form. It differs from that of Talpino, but it is also based on detailed proportion studies, e.g. the figure of Venus in The Dream of the Idler, or the personification of Luck.
An engraving of four witches, also by Dürer, is displayed next to drawings of the three Graces by Guercino and an English artist, Charles Beale the Younger, who looks almost too closely at the female anatomy. Other drawings include mythological figures of Venus, Diana, Minerva and Hebe, the goddess of youth. A number of idealised female faces show the variety of the subject and the inventiveness of the artists and conclude with the self-portrait of the Bolognese artist Elisabetta Sirani, in which individual and idealised features merge.