Collecting Architectural Drawings
From medieval times architectural drawings have held intrigue for collectors. The retention or acquisition of drawings by medieval masons who controlled the design and building processes from their tracing houses was driven by the need to refer to the records of previous buildings for the inspirations for new work. This tradition was continued by generations of masons and architects. Collections of architectural drawings were accumulated and handed on to their successors in practice, with each practitioner adding to the scope and extent of the collection. In this way, John Webb received the bulk of the considerable Inigo Jones collection of architectural drawings and books on the death of Jones in 1652; that collection including Palladio drawings purchased from his children by Jones in 1614 and Scamozzi drawings acquired from the architect himself.
Alongside these predominantly practical collections amassed by architects, private collectors and connoisseurs of architectural drawings were emerging. The Earl of Arundel and the Cecil Family, for example, built up significant collections in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and the Lowther family estate amassed an extensive collection into the 1800s. Such collections formed the foundation for, and inspired, great English collections such as those created by the Talmans, Lord Burlington, Sir John Soane, the Victoria and Albert Museum, certain Oxford colleges and, of course, the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (1820-1877), Competition Design for the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, 1866, signed & inscribed
Interest in the collection of architectural drawings continues into the 20th and 21st century and this is marked by the founding of architectural museums such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, FRAC Centre in Orleans, Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, Norwegian Architecture Museum in Oslo, Architekturzentrum Vienna, Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in New York, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the Heinz Architectural Center in Pittsburgh.
As National Museums streamline their collections, they are dedicating buildings to the study of their architectural heritage and increasing their holdings of pre-eminent architectural drawings; in this way enhanced collections are providing unparalleled resources for the study, understanding and enjoyment of architecture within a national and international framework.
Gallery Lingard provides archive appraisals for collections of architectural drawings. See Archive Appraisals