All visitors are welcome to access Tate's holdings of prints, drawings and watercolours that are not on display elsewhere, at the Prints and Drawings Rooms at Tate Britain.

Visitors are able to:

  • See unframed works ranging from Turner to modern and contemporary international artists in detail
  • Engage with the collection in an intimate study room environment
  • Visit for pleasure or for academic study

Please visit the Prints and Drawings Room page to find out how to arrange your visit.


The Holdings are arranged into the following four collections ranging from Turner to modern and contemporary international artists.

Historic British art

Tate has a fine collection of British School art on paper spanning the sixteenth to the late nineteenth centuries. This rich and varied collection includes:

Like the Oppé Collection and Turner Bequest the Historic British collection is also rich in landscape watercolours and engravings, featuring the works of Thomas Girtin, John Sell Cotman and Peter De Wint.

The Turner Bequest

After J.M.W. Turner’s death in 1851, the contents of his studio became the property of the nation. The Turner Bequest comprises around 30,000 works of art on paper, including watercolours, drawings and 300 oil paintings. Most works in the Bequest are unfinished pieces or preparatory studies.

The Bequest provides a unique insight into Turner’s methods and documents his travels around Britain and Europe. In addition to mounted works, the Prints and Drawings Rooms hold 280 bound Turner sketchbooks.

The Oppé Collection

Formed by the distinguished scholar and collector Paul Oppé (1878–1957), this was one of the last major collections of British watercolours and drawings to have stayed in private hands. The collection has long been regarded as being of national importance and was acquired by Tate in 1996.

The Oppé Collection comprises over 3,000 works of art on paper, including portraits, figurative drawings, and most notably landscapes from the ‘golden age’ of British watercolour painting (1750–1850).

Among the most striking are those produced by artists working in Switzerland and Italy in the era of the Grand Tour, including Richard Wilson, Francis Towne, JR Cozens, John ‘Warwick’ Smith, John Downman, William Marlow and William Pars.

The acquisition of the Oppé Collection was made possible by grants from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the National Art Collections Fund. The cataloguing of the Oppé Collection has also been supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Modern and contemporary prints

This particularly strong area of Tate’s collection features the work of several important British and international printmakers, ranging from Stanley William Hayter to Richard Hamilton and Paula Rego. Among the holdings are important editions from Curwen Studio, Kelpra Studio and Tyler Graphics.

It contains a variety of portfolios which incorporate narrative or showcase the works of several artists, and represents print-making media ranging from monotype to digital.

The collection includes:

Modern and contemporary drawings

Tate’s modern and contemporary British and international drawings cover a wide range of genres, aesthetics and styles, from the sketchbook drawings of Oskar Kokoschka to the serpentine forms of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, the visceral sketches of Francis Bacon and the absurd subjects of Marcel Dzama.

Modern Photography

Tate’s strong and fast-growing photography collection is built around the acquisition of works in groups or series to represent key periods, movements and practitioners in-depth. Highlights include the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection – a major body of photographs depicting the capital by important photographers from around the globe – and a rich collection of modernist photography, with pre-eminent examples by key practitioners from places as diverse as Latin America, East and West Europe, Southeast Asia, and Japan.

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