The Barber Institute of Fine Arts


The Barber Institute of Fine Arts holds almost 600 fine art prints, covering six centuries of European printmaking up until the late-20th century. This range allows the collection to illustrate many periods, groupings and genres in the history of printmaking, with examples by some of the most revered artists. 

The Barber’s Renaissance print collection includes five woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer. Different woodcutting techniques and Renaissance styles are also represented. Other strong groupings are from the Dutch Golden Age, with several works by Rembrandt and his pupils. 20th-century German Expressionism is also especially well represented. 

Prints depicting biblical scenes form a great part of the collection; in contrast, there are also various prints by caricaturists, such as William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson, and works relating to the printed word. The latter includes Samuel Palmer’s The Vine, published in Songs and Ballads of Shakespeare, 1853, some of Honoré-Victorin Daumier’s lithographs for the French newspaper Le Charivari, and Édouard Manet’s etching of Charles Baudelaire.

Other items relating to the printed word are The Life and Letters of Charles Samuel Keene (1823-1891), written before 1868. Several of the sketches and drawings in these pages were published in Punch. There is also an early German publication, Horologium devotionis circa vitam Christi by Bertoldus the Dominican (active 1350), published by Johann Amerbach, Basle, c. 1490. The 66 printed leaves include 36 woodcuts in a modern stamped calf binding. A later German volume, entitled Plenarium, by an unknown maker from the 15th century, is made up of 207 printed leaves including full-page coloured frontispiece and 36 woodcuts in a modern stamped calf binding. The final printed book in the Barber’s collection is The Book of Wisdom and Lies by Orbeliani, Sulkhan-Saba, consisting of 271 printed pages, including decorated title-page and initials, in a vellum binding. It was printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, 1894, and translated into English by Oliver Wardrop.

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Contact Details

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TS

+44 (0) 121 414 7333