Amassed by Professor J. Anthony Betts, the Master Drawings Collection started as a teaching aid. Intending to showcase different techniques of draughtsmanship, as well as providing hands-on instruction in art history; exemplar drawings by old and contemporary masters were bought from a variety of auctions.

The first works for the collection were acquired from the London dealer H.M. Calmann in June 1953. United by their shared focus on the human figure, the range of different styles suggest that Betts chose the sheets to show the various forms and functions found in an artists’ practice; from workshop sketches to complex preparatory studies.

Adding to this legacy, Betts’ son approached the University after his death, allowing an opportunity to purchase drawings from Betts’ private collection.

Artists represented in the Master Drawings Collection range from Jost Amman and Peter Paul Rubens to James McNeill Whistler, Spencer Frederick Gore and Walter Richard Sickert.