Collections

The Yale Center for British Art holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, presenting the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period to the present day. Together with the Reference Library, the Center’s collections of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, rare books, and manuscripts provide an exceptional resource for understanding the story of British art.

Paul Mellon, Founder

Located in a building designed by architect Louis I. Kahn, the Center's collections of British art and books were the gift of Paul Mellon (1907–1999), a graduate of Yale College (Class of 1929). The collections’ particular strength in the art and books of the eighteenth century reflect the taste and enthusiasms of Paul Mellon.

The Center’s Collections

  • 2,000 paintings and 200 sculptures from the medieval to the contemporary
  • 20,000 drawings and watercolors and 30,000 prints giving a comprehensive history of British graphic art
  • 35,000 rare books and manuscripts from the sixteenth century to the present, including the J. R. Abbey collection of “color-plate” books, sporting material, early maps and atlases, incunables, private press and contemporary artists’ books, and manuscripts covering British artists of all periods
  • a reference library and archives with over 30,000 volumes supporting research in British art and related fields