Drawings and paintings

The Library's collection of drawings and paintings comprises around 10,000 items by Swedish artists and about 400 by foreigners from the 16th to the 20th century.

The collection is undergoing digitisation, and more and more drawings are available in digital copies: Drawings at Uppsala University Library. This digitisation was made possible by means of a generous donation from antiquarian dealer Per Karlsson, Stockholm.

The Swedish collection of drawings and paintings has very varied content - the motifs are scenes of daily life, topographical views, historical events and portraits.

Well-known artists

The collection includes well-known artists, such as Carl Gustaf Pilo, Johan Tobias Sergel, Carl Fredric von Breda, Louis Masreliez, Elias Martin, Carl Johan Fahlcrantz, Jean Eric Rehn and Carl Larsson, to mention but a few. Among the more well-known amateurs are Augustin and Carl August Ehrensvärd, Hjalmar Mörner, Carl Stefan Bennet, Carl Gustaf Löwenhielm, Fredrika Bremer and many others.

Among the foreign drawings there are works by Bernini, Boucher, Callot, Poussin, Rafael, Rembrandt and Rubens – in some cases with questionable attribution. 

How did the drawings arrive at the Library?

The large collections of watercolours, tinted drawings, lead pencil and charcoal drawings, etc. mainly arrived at the Library during the 19th century through a number of donations.

Two of the more significant donations, which constitute the foundation of the drawing collection, were from Major-General Carl Hård and Jacob Westin, Master of the Guild of Tanners. Hård’s donation (1834) contained more than 4,000 Swedish drawings and just under 500 foreign ones. The number contained in Westin’s donation (1877) is difficult to say, but they were part of the 68 portfolios of “maps, views and drawings of Sweden”, and 28 portfolios of portraits of Swedes, which together with other map and image material probably contributed to a separate department “Map and Chart Department” being founded at the University Library in the early 1900s.

Examples of well-known drawings

The most famous of our drawings is a small and, at first glance, unimportant drawing that is usually called Courtiers from Geldern or the Silver Pencil Drawing.

Another example from the collections is the so-called Deposition Act, an initiation ritual that the students were forced to carry out in the 17th century. In today’s use of language, “deposition” would equal ragging.

Some examples from the drawing collection are on display in the Exhibition Hall of Carolina Rediviva. Apart from the Silver Pencil Drawing, the Exhibition Hall also has on display Fredrika Bremer’s sketchbook from her journey to the New World, a view of the Bosporus by Carl Gustaf Löwenhielm, portrait sketches of Gustav III and a costume drawing for a tournament by Johan Tobias Sergel, as well as a watercolour by Karl-Erik Forsberg with symbols for Uppsala University Library.


The Swedish drawings are registered in a printed catalogue up until and including the acquisition year 1958:

  • Davidsson, Åke, Katalog över svenska handteckningar i Uppsala universitetsbibliotek (Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 12). Uppsala, 1958.

The printed catalogue is continuously being transferred to Alvin - platform for digital collections and digitised cultural heritage.

Last modified: 2021-06-03