Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Painting of a man. Click to enlarge.

E. E. Cummings (American, 1894-1962)
Self-Portrait, 1938
Oil on canvas
32 3/8" x 21 1/4"

Art and Art History

The art collection is the Ransom Center's repository of drawings, paintings, sculpture, and prints. It includes over 65,000 American, European, and Asian works of art from the fifteenth through the twenty-first centuries. Its strengths include notable American, British, French, and Mexican artists' works on paper. Complementing the Ransom Center's extensive rare book and manuscript collections are exceptional examples of literary portraiture as well as art created by writers and poets.

Art by Writers

The collection contains artwork by over one hundred author-artists. A small collection of engravings, watercolors, and drawings by William Blake (1757-1827) includes a notable preliminary study for A Vision of the Last Judgment. Dorothy Brett (1883-1977) has several paintings, including a portrait of her close friend D. H. Lawrence, a portrait of Aldous Huxley, and a pencil sketch of a Bloomsbury Group party. D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) himself is represented with over thirty paintings and drawings of his own, including Boccaccio Story, one of the author's personal favorites. Of the one hundred works of art by American painter and poet E. E. Cummings (1894-1962), there are eleven self-portraits. Artworks by American novelist Henry Miller (1891-1980) include two self-portraits and several watercolors, most notably Semblance of a Devoted Past. Anne Sexton's (1928-1974) several oil paintings, landscapes, and human figures are here, as well as posters, proofs for "The Year of the Insane," and two self-portraits. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) has designs for sets, costumes, as well as two self-portraits curiously styled as a Rorschach ink-blot test. William Makepeace Thackeray(1811-1863) has several self-portraits in the collection, along with pencil and ink illustrations for some of his books, including Vanity Fair. The Evelyn Waugh art collection contains several works by Waugh, including sketchbooks, juvenilia and illustrations for his novels Decline and Fall and Love Among the Ruins. Over eighty oil paintings and drawings by painter and writer Denton Welch (1915-1948) include a self-portrait, sketchbooks, still-lifes, and landscapes, many completed in a surrealistic style. There are also portraits of family and friends including three self-portraits. Tennessee Williams's (1911-1983) paintings, many of which he created during his stay in New Orleans in the late 1940s, include landscapes, still-lifes, portraits of his friends and companions, and a self-portrait.

Portraits of Writers

Among thousands of portraits, the collection houses works by California artist Don Bachardy (b. 1934), including portraits of authors Tennessee Williams, William Goyen, W. H. Auden, E. M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood and Lillian Hellman. The work of Texas-born artist Philip Core (1951-1989), who studied and worked in England, includes paintings of Nancy Cunard dancing with Brian Howard, and one of John Betjeman, who studied and worked in England, nestled in his study surrounded by books and personal effects including a scale model of a cathedral. A collection of works by Peter Evershed (b. 1925) contains drawings of Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, Frieda Lawrence, and Dorothy Brett, as well as other artists from the literary, jazz, and show business worlds of New York in the 1950s. Drawings and paintings by British artist and publisher Desmond Harmsworth (1903-1990) include portraits of James Joyce, Osbert Sitwell, Stuart Gilbert, Sylvia Beach, and Havelock Ellis. Several drawings by the prominent English portrait artist Augustus John (1878-1961) include images of Lady Ottoline Morrell, T. E. Lawrence, Nancy Cunard, Aleister Crowley, James Joyce, Ronald Firbank, William Lewis, and W. B. Yeats. Emanuel Romano (1897?-1984), Italian artist and descendant of a long line of eminent sculptors and painters, made a series of portraits of Sir Gerald Kelly, as well as such authors as Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Carson McCullers, and many others. Over twenty drawings and prints by English painter and draftsman William Rothenstein (1872-1945) span more than three decades and include drawings of W. B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. The collection holds several paintings and drawings by Russian-born American painter Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957), most prominently a portrait of his close friend Edith Sitwell. The Polish-born artist Feliks Topolski's (1907-1989) series of paintings of the twenty most important living British authors of the time was commissioned by The University in 1961 and includes notables such as Edith Sitwell, Bertrand Russell, Evelyn Waugh, and John Osborne. In addition, the collection holds over one hundred drawings made by Topolski for George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Geneva.

Caricatures & Cartoons

A strong collection of caricatures comprises the work of Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), "Spy" Sir Leslie Ward (1851-1922), Zdzislaw Czermanski (1896-1970), and Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957). Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) is represented by over two hundred drawings, as well as two frescoes picturing Edwardian notables and literary figures.

The collection includes thirty drawings and prints by Edward Gorey (1925-2000), a group of over four hundred drawings for the theater by Ronald Searle (1920-2011), and thirty pages of pencil cartoons by American poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971).

The art of political cartooning is represented in the work of Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Moloch (Hector Colomb, 1849-1909), Fred O. Seibel (1886-1968), and Charles George Werner (1909?-1997). Also, a wide range of prints and drawings by eighteenth-century British satirist George Cruikshank (1792-1878) includes his early political cartoons. Italian caricaturist Carlo de Fornaro (1871-1949) is represented with caricatures of Enrico Caruso and Gabriele d'Annunzio.

Book Illustration & Fine Presses

Encompassing the history of illustration, the Ransom Center's collection includes illuminated manuscripts, such as the colorful fourteenth-century Italian Brevarium, as well as the first illustrated book of the Aldine Press, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499) by Francesco Colonna (1433-1527), replete with woodcuts. Among the richly illustrated volumes of the Medici Collection is the Cremona fedelis sima cittá (1585) of Antonio Campi (1523-1587), chronicling the history of the Dukes of Cremona, with plates by Agostino Carracci (1557-1602). Among seventeenth- and eighteenth-century illustrated books is the Diverse figure al numero di ottanta (1646), an album of engravings made by Simone Guilino Parigino after Annibale Carracci's drawings of men and their professions. Original illustration artworks by approximately fifteen hundred principally British, American, and French artists depict the tales of Dickens, Poe, Shaw, Twain, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as classic literature published by the George Macy Company. The collection includes watercolors from The House at Pooh Corner (1928) by the London-born illustrator E. H. Shepard (1879-1976), as well as his ink drawings for Georgette Agnew's Let's Pretend (1927). The work of children's literature author and illustrator Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) is represented by drawings, color lithographs, and watercolors. Also included are Eric Kennington's (1888-1960) original illustrations for the works of T. E. Lawrence including the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935), and Arthur Rackham's (1867-1939) original illustrations and proofs for Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1935). Along with the large collection of book illustrations are two notable albums of original binding designs by French designer Pierre Legrain (1889-1929). Composed of gouache, pencil, ink, and collage elements, these layout designs include Legrain's handwritten instructions to the binders. The Ransom Center's Library has seventeen books of original bindings by Legrain; designs for three of the books are found in his albums of original work.

Materials relating to the Golden Cockerel Press during the period of 1924-29 number nearly one thousand wood blocks, intaglio plates, prints, and drawings by artists such as John Farleigh, John Nash, and Eric Gill.

The Eric Gill (1882-1940) collection is the largest and most prominent collection of his art in the world with over three thousand drawings, prints, and stone carvings by the English artist, calligrapher, carver, designer, illustrator, sculptor, and typographer. The collection includes studies for his prints, original blocks and plates, proofs of various states, and final prints. The thirty sculptures within the collection include his Fifth Station of the Cross (1913), which was the trial panel for Gill's fourteen Stations of the Cross at Westminster Cathedral. The Ransom Center also houses a complete set of the productions of William Morris's (1834-1896) Kelmscott Press as well as a significant collection of T. J. Cobden-Sanderson's (1840-1922) work, both as a master of fine binding and as the Doves Press founder and designer.

The George Macy Limited Editions Club (1929-1985) & The Heritage Press (1935-1970) collections contain over six thousand pieces of art prepared for the Club's deluxe editions by more than one hundred internationally known artists. This collection includes original watercolors, drawings, prints, colored overlays, and proofs by such artists as Miguel Covarrubias, André Derain, and Roger Duvoisin. (See also Book Arts.)

Prints, Posters & Broadsides

For over the past two decades, The Limited Editions Club has concentrated on commissioning internationally recognized artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Francesco Clemente, Willem De Kooning, Elsworth Kelly, and Betye Saar, to create multiple original prints associated with modern classics. Suites of prints by the above artists and more are found in the art collection as well as in the Ransom Center's book collection.

Important suites of prints are also found in the Peter Blum Edition Art Collection (1981-1987) and Universal Limited Art Editions collection (1964-1988). These two collections include groundbreaking works by significant artists of the time period such as Robert Rauschenberg's plexiglass "book" Shades (1964), Robert Motherwell and Raphael Alberti's A la Pintura (1972), Jasper Johns' Voice 2 series (1982-83), and James Turrell's Deep Sky (1985).

The Alvin and Ethel Romansky Art Collection (1834-1987) includes prints and drawings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and features important American artists such as Alexander Calder, Man Ray, and Andy Warhol, European artists Salvador Dali, Käthe Kollwitz, and Joan Miró, and Mexican artists Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Spanning the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries, the Liechtenstein Collection of Popular Imagery contains over eight hundred items from nine European countries. Among the various woodcuts, engravings, etchings, and mezzotints are devotional images, royal genealogical trees, political and religious satire, social allegory, images of science and technology, advertising, erotica, and dance of death imagery. The collection includes a calendar with Hans Holbein (1497-1543) designs and a coat of arms for the Dukes of Saxony created by Lucas Cranach, the Elder (1472-1553).

The Center's Collections of Japanese Prints contain approximately two thousand nineteenth-century ukiyo-e, primarily featuring artists from the Utagawa School, including Kunisada (1813-1880) and Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) and nearly fifty prints from Yoshitoshi's (1839-1892) 100 Aspects of the Moon. The collection also holds images from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries by such masters as Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Hokusai (1760-1849).

Four thousand posters from the Spanish Civil War and World Wars I and II (American, British, French, German, and Russian) form a valuable collection of graphic arts. The collection includes noted poster artists James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) and Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952). A variety of mid-twentieth-century French and Mexican travel posters and posters of Japanese popular culture complete the collection.
Over three hundred broadsides by Mexican printmaker and engraver José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) are found in the collection. (see Latin American Art.)

Modern French Art

The Carlton Lake Collection contains works by many major artists with a special focus on Jean Cocteau (1889-1963). Several hundred items highlight Cocteau and his connections in theater, literature, ballet, and music, and relate to his works Orphée, Parade, Les Enfants terribles, and Les Parents terribles. The collection contains Cocteau's portraits of Blaise Cendrars, Raymond Radiguet, Georges Auric, and Erik Satie; and portraits of Cocteau by Diego Rivera, Raoul Dufy, and Pablo Picasso, as well as work by Valentine and Jean Hugo. Such modern art movements as Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Dadaism are also represented in the collection.

The Artine Artinian Collection features prints and drawings of French notables including several etchings by Robert Kastor and numerous portraits of such authors as Honoré de Balzac, Colette, Guy de Maupassant, Paul Valéry, and Emile Zola.

Latin American Art

The Nickolas Muray Collection of Mexican Art contains over one hundred paintings, drawings, and prints by twentieth-century Mexican artists. Collected primarily during the 1930s and 1940s, the bulk of the collection features work by Muray's close friend Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957) along with illustrations and paintings for his publications Island of Bali and Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Other artworks in the collection include Rufino Tamayo's (1899-1991) important 1951 painting Cow Swatting Flies, and three pieces by Muray's friend and lover Frida Kahlo (1907-1954): Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Still Life (with Parrot and Fruit) and Diego y Yo, a sketch of the artist and her husband, Diego Rivera. Works by the artists Guillermo Meza, Roberto Montenegro, Juan Soriano, Fernando Castillo, and Rafael Navarro are also in the collection.

Complimenting the Nickolas Muray Collection is the collection assembled by Covarrubias's biographer Adriana Williams, and her husband Tom Williams . It contains artwork, books, correspondence, ephemera, photographs, and other items related to Covarrubias, his circle of friends and research on Pacific cultures, particularly the island of Bali.

The Dudley Smith Collection of Latin American Artwork, which focuses on folklórico, or peasant images, contains watercolors and oil paintings by Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Kingman (1913-1998), as well as oils on canvas by Peruvian artist José Sabogal (1888-1956). Focusing on the horsemen of the Americas, the Edward Larocque Tinker and Joshua B. Powers Collections include works by Argentinian artists Molina Campos (1891-1959), A. M. Paz, and Uruguayan artist Enrique Castells Capurro (1891-1959). Over three hundred broadsides by Mexico's most popular commentator José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) feature his Corridos y Calaveras and his series One Hundred Woodcuts published by Arsacio Vanegas Arroyo in 1947.

Other highlights in the Latin American Collection include David Alfaro Siqueiros's (1896-1974) Portrait of George Gershwin in Concert and Diego Rivera's Una Niña con Muñeca.(See Latin American Studies.)

Texas Artists

The Ransom Center holds the largest single collection of the work of Tom Lea (1907-2001), including hundreds of paintings, drawings, prints, and associated books, photographs, and manuscripts by and about this El Paso artist. His work from World War II and China is particularly well represented in the collection. There are over two hundred pastels by Frank Reaugh (1860-1945), a legend in Western art, who took caravans of students by wagon and Model-T truck to sketch the unspoiled landscape and native wildlife of West Texas. His series of large pastel drawings, Twenty-four Hours with the Herd, exemplifies his ability to capture the Southwestern landscape as they existed before the turn of the twentieth century.

African-American muralist and educator John Thomas Biggers (1924-2001) is represented by a series of early career drawings and illustrations for J. Mason Brewer's book Aunt Dicy Tales (1955-56) and a portfolio of lithographs for Maya Angelou's Our Grandmothers (1994) created later in his career in a mature, geometric style inspired by travels in West Africa.

The German sculptor Elizabet Ney (1833-1907), who settled in Texas in 1872, gave her entire collection of sculpture and artifacts to The University. Her studio in Austin is now a city museum where most of the Ransom Center's collection is on permanent loan for display. The Center's Art Collection also holds a selection of paintings by some of the state's pioneering artists such as Nannie Huddle and William Henry Huddle, Herman Lungwitz, and Julian Onderdonk. (See also Texana.)

Other Collections


The Ben Weinreb Architectural Drawings Collection contains over three thousand nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century designs and works of art primarily from England, France, Italy, and Germany. The collection includes paintings, watercolors, prints, and travel sketchbooks. The large number of works by British architects and artists covers a variety of architectural subjects, including archaeological and historical sites throughout Europe and the Middle East. (See also Architecture.)

Pre-Raphaelite Art

The Ransom Center houses items by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), including cartoons for the stained-glass Story of St. George and the Dragon. A small collection of pastels includes studies for Rossetti's Lady Lilith and Dante's Dream at the Death of Beatrice. Work by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) includes two cartoons for stained-glass angels produced by Morris & Co. for St. Peter's Church in London.


In addition to the works already mentioned, the Ransom Center has several carvings by Eric Gill (1882-1940), including Calf and Splits, as well as work by Art Deco artist Demetre Chiparus (1886-1947) and various portrait busts and monumental casts of nineteenth-century Texas leaders by Elizabet Ney (1833-1907). In addition, there is a large collection of portrait busts, primarily of literary figures, by such notable sculptors as Jacob Epstein, Joe Brown, Jean Antoine Houdon, Henry Enrico Glicenstein, and Maurice Lambert.

Artists' Books

The Ransom Center's collection of over four hundred artists' books includes such artists as Ida Applebroog, Joanna Drucker, Jenny Holzer, David Hockney and Richard Tuttle along with a large collection of modernist works by Richard Avedon, John Cage, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. This collection is particularly strong in works of the period 1970-1985. Highlights include the collaborative efforts of artists and writers such as Foirades (1976) by Jasper Johns and Samuel Beckett, Traces suspectes en surface (1978) by Robert Rauschenberg and Alain Robbe-Grillet, Stones (1959) by Larry Rivers and Frank O'Hara and Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror (1984) by poet John Ashbery, with original prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers. A recent addition to the artists' books collection includes Ed Ruscha's photography-based books Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962), Royal Road Test (1980), Parking Lots (1999) and On the Road (2010), a limited edition book of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac.