Prints and Drawings (Room 90), Upper floor

Exhibitions of prints and drawings are changed several times a year because long exposure to light causes works on paper to fade and discolour.

Changing displays



5-28 September 2017

Benozzo Gozzoli, Studies of Angels, c.1460, traces of metalpoint, pen and brown ink, brown wash, white heightening, on pink prepared paper, 2017,7010.1, Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax  and allocated to the British Museum 2017

Thanks to HM Government’s Acquisition in Lieu scheme, the British Museum has recently acquired the most significant Renaissance drawing to enter its collection for over 30 years. This is Benozzo Gozzoli’s Studies of angels, exhibited at the centre of this display. It is a rare preparatory drawing for Gozzoli’s masterpiece, The Journey of the Magi, a fresco painted for the Medici family in the chapel of their Florentine palazzo around 1460.

Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497) was one of the leading Florentine painters in the 1450s and 1460s, a generation before Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. This display sets his Studies of angels in its historical context, including other drawings made by Gozzoli himself and by assistants working in his studio. It also features drawings by his immediate predecessors, who worked at a time when the Gothic style of the medieval period was shifting towards the softer, more naturalistic forms of the Renaissance. It finishes with a drawing by Gozzoli’s contemporary Fra Filippo Lippi, who painted the altarpiece that stood at the heart of the Medici chapel.

Gozzoli was known for drawings on coloured paper, which used metalpoint and lead-white highlights to create a subtle play of light and shade, as shown to such splendid effect in the Studies of angels. Yet his work also included fine pen drawings and intricate compositional designs, examples of which are included here.



5-28 September 2017

Crystal Chia, Self-Portraits, 2017 ink on paper

Ways of Knowing presents the work of students from Central Saint Martins alongside selected artworks from the Prints and Drawings collection. By drawing from these drawings as part of the Bridget Riley Art Foundation project students discovered new ways of knowing their artistic practice. Including a range of works from Leonardo to Gerhard Richter, the display explores drawings an invaluable research methodology.


Permanent displays

Two works from the department are normally on display in the Museum:

Grayson Perry, 'Map of an Englishman' (detail) 
Michelangelo, Epifania


Other prints and drawings can be seen in the Study Room.