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Paul Sandby (1731–1809) after Thomas Sandby (1721–98), The Cascade at Virginia Water (proof state), c.1754. Etching with brush and ink, 55.8 x 31.3 cm. RCIN 917947 ©

George III's huge topographical collection was given to the British Museum with the King's Library in the 1820s (and is now in the Department of Maps of the British Library), but subsequent monarchs, especially George IV and Queen Victoria, formed a further collection of 5,000 topographical prints, now housed in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.

The largest part of the collection (over 3,000 prints) covers Britain and Ireland, organised by county, with separate sections for London and royal residences. There are views of landscapes, cathedrals and churches, castles and country houses, hospitals, theatres, streets, public monuments and other sites of interest. The collection was assembled more as a reference collection than for the individual artistic merits of its components, and covers sixteenth-century woodcuts, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century etchings and engravings, nineteenth-century lithographs, and some ephemera such as early postcards and cuttings from newspapers.

There are also large groups of prints of France (over 800 items), Germany (c.650) and Italy (c.400), as well as other European countries including Spain, Flanders and Belgium, Holland and Denmark. Among a smaller group of topographical prints from the rest of the world are views of Canada and the USA, the West Indies, South Africa, India, Japan and China.

The British prints feature in our map, The Royal Collection Near You.  This presents the Royal Collection with particular geographical associations, including those in royal residences and on short and long term loan to regional venues.

Paul Sandby (1731–1809) after Thomas Sandby (1721–98)

The Cascade at Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park (proof state),

Friedrich Weber (1765–1811) after Alessandro d’Anna (1746–1810)

The Eruption of Mount Etna

Angelo Campanella (1746–1811) after Anton von Maron (1733–1808)

A Roman fresco in the grounds of Villa Negroni: The Drunken Hercules