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Nymph reclining with a nymph playing a lyre
About the Collection

Learn more about the Royal Collection, one of the most important art collections in the world

Drawings, Watercolours, and Prints

The Royal Collection contains one of the most important collections of drawings, watercolours and prints in the world. Most famous are the groups of around 85 portrait drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger and 550 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, including studies of anatomy, landscape, water and natural history.  From the Italian Renaissance there are also important groups by Raphael and Michelangelo, including several of the latter’s famous ‘presentation drawings’.

Archers shooting at a herm©

The Italian Baroque drawings are principally of the Roman and Bolognese schools, with large groups by the Carracci family, Domenichino, Carlo Maratti, Andrea Sacchi, Sassoferrato, Elisabetta Sirani, Stefano della Bella, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and Guercino. The collection also contains most of Cassiano dal Pozzo’s encyclopaedic ‘Paper Museum’.  The eighteenth-century Italian drawings are mainly Venetian, with matchless groups by Canaletto, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, and Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, and pastels by Rosalba Carriera.  There are also significant numbers of Dutch, Flemish, German and French drawings, mainly of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including groups by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. Eighteenth-century British drawings include fine series by Paul and Thomas Sandby (particularly relating to Windsor Castle) and William Hogarth, whilst several thousand nineteenth-century watercolours relate principally to the reign of Queen Victoria and to her family and travels.

The print collection includes large groups by Dürer, Hollar, Canaletto, Della Bella, Silvestre, Callot, Hogarth and Rowlandson, and collections of prints after the works of Raphael, Reynolds and Landseer.  Most of the other prints are organised by subject-matter, including European royal portraits, non-royal British portraits, topography, and prints of historical events.

The British architectural drawings in the collection are almost exclusively connected with the royal residences.  At the core of the extensive holdings of maps is George III’s military collection, dealing with military operations throughout the world before c.1820.


The greater part of the drawings, watercolours and prints are housed in the Print Room at Windsor Castle, the present layout of which was created by Prince Albert in the 1850s.  Assembled over the last five centuries, the collection was principally shaped by just three monarchs.  Charles II laid the foundation of the Old Master drawings, acquiring mainly Renaissance works (including the Holbeins and Leonardos).

George III made substantial additions, mainly through his purchases of two major drawings collections, those of Consul Joseph Smith in Venice and of Cardinal Alessandro Albani in Rome.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert commissioned many works from contemporary artists as mementos of their lives together.  Prince Albert also initiated the Raphael Collection, which sought to assemble reproductions (prints and photographs) of every known work by, or deriving from, Raphael, and consists of some 5,500 individual items.

Since the nineteenth century, additions have continued to be made, through gift (particularly on State Visits and at Coronations and Jubilees), purchase and commission.  The collection is neither consistent nor comprehensive, but reflects (and often records) the interests and lives of British sovereigns through the last 400 years.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.