The Library has extensive collections of pictures including engravings and lithographs, drawings, postcards, photographs and printed pictures. The subject-matter is mainly portraits, topographical views and historic events.
The collections have been built up since the 17th century through donations, legal deposits and purchase. A small part of the picture collections are searchable online in Alvin, platform for digital collections and digitised cultural heritage.
Posters and charts
The Library's considerable collection of Swedish posters from the 19th century to the 1960s span a whole period of Swedish cultural history and development. We have only a small selection of Swedish posters from the 1970s onwards, which however includes information about important events and posters that are connected with specific individuals. At present, searches for posters can only be done using the year and place where they were printed.
Questions about other posters should be directed to the National Library of Sweden.
Charts is a term that has been used collectively for various kinds of pictures irrespective of techniques or categories. It is still used for the large topographical, historical, cultural-historical and art-historical picture collections. There are roughly 100,000 charts in these subjects.
We own a representative collection of 20th century Swedish school and educational charts. Some of these school charts have been used at the Teacher Training College in Uppsala.
Digitised poster collections
- Swedish circus posters from 1830 to 1900 – contains about 600 posters.
- Russian posters from the Russian Revolution – contains of 119 posters.
The University Library has large collections of photographic material from the early 19th century up to the present. They are mainly photographs of topography and portraits. A very large number of our photographs form part of our extensive portrait collection. Most of the photographic portraits are from 1860-1940, but we have both older and more recent pictures too. The collections include extensive photographic documentation of the city of Uppsala and its surroundings from the 1860s up to around 1950. The collections also contain photographs from other places in Sweden and abroad.
Collection of negatives
Collections of negatives from several well-known Uppsala photographers are held in our picture collections:
- Henri Osti – The oldest and most famous of the our photographic collections is the Osti Collection. It consists of glass negatives made by the German-born photographer Henri Osti (originally Heinrich Osti), who had a studio in Uppsala from 1859-1914. The collection comprises approximately 16,000 items and presents a world in pictures of people and places chiefly from late 19th century Uppsala. The glass negatives left by Osti are cared for by the Uppland Museum and Uppsala University Library together. The Museum holds the topographical part of the collection, while the Library has responsibility for the portraits from Osti's photographic studio.
- Per Kjellén – Another important photographic collection is photographer Per Kjellén's approximately 30,000 glass negatives, which portray the academic world in Uppsala up to around 1940.
- Studio Hagberg – Studio Hagberg's collection of negatives is a big portrait collection from Uppsala spanning the years 1892-1960.
- Ellen Claeson – Uppsala photographer Ellen Claeson's collection (active 1904-1961) contains around 26,000 negatives.
- A. Larsson and Alfred Dahlgren – In 1939 photographer Joel Andersson (born 1885) donated a collection of glass negatives to the University Library. It contained the negatives of A. Larsson (active 1892-1924) and Alfred Dahlgren (active 1890-1908). The glass negatives of Alfred Dahlgren's photographs of Uppsala 1901-02 and 1908 are however at the Uppland Museum.
- Gunnar Sundgren – The Uppsala photographer Gunnar Sundgren's (1901-1970) collection was donated to the Uppland Museum in the 1980s. The Museum looks after the topographical negatives while the considerable collection of portrait negatives is held at the Library. The Section for maps and pictures also has a large number of photographic portraits taken by Sundgren, but also views mainly from Uppsala.
Engravings and lithographs
The collections contain examples from the infancy of modern printing up to our own days and they cover various motifs: scenes from everyday life, topographical views, historical scenes and portraits. We have examples from the 15th century of large prints from woodcuts to copperplate, steel engravings to 19th century colour lithographs. In the collection we have items by both foreign artists (e.g. Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Andrea Mantegna, Claude Mellan, Jacques Callot, Antonio Tempesta) as well as Swedish artists (Elias and Johan Fredrik Martin, Anders Zorn etc.).
The greater part of the collections of engravings and lithographs were acquired during the 19th century through a number of donations. Two of the more important ones were from Major General Carl Hård (1834), with approx. 6,000 engravings and lithographs and the alderman and master tanner Jacob Westin (1877) which included 28 portfolios of portraits, mostly graphic prints. A third significant donation was the 20,000 engravings and lithographs which accompanied Carl Gustaf von Brinkman's great book donation in 1847.
There is a catalogue for the collection of engravings and parts of the lithographical collection at the Special Collections Division.
Special catalogue of Claude Mellan's engravings
Ekholm, Gunnar – Catalogue des gravures de Claude Mellan. Prédécé de notices sur la collection de gravures de la bibliothèque. Uppsala 1913. (Les gravures célèbres de la Bibliothèque de l’Université Royale d’Upsala).
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 Swedish collection of drawings and paintings has very varied content – the motifs are scenes of daily life, topographical views, historical events and portraits.
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.
Some parts of our collections are available in digital form:
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.
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.
A large number of persons are represented with their portraits in the collection. In total there are around 300,000 portraits in various techniques – from hand drawing to photography. Here you can find portraits from the 16th century onwards of known and unknown persons from Sweden and abroad. There are also a number of fictitious portraits of persons active long before the 16th century.
The portraits are registered under the name of the sitter in a card catalogue at the Special Collections Division.
In our picture collections we have a large number of Swedish and foreign views of towns and countryside as well as exteriors and interiors of various buildings. The collection comprises around 100,000 pictures using different techniques (engravings, water colours, photographs etc.).
Some of the views can be seached through place name in Alvin – platform for digital collections and digitised cultural heritage.
The University Library has extensive collections of postcards. The largest category is postcards depicting various places and sites in Sweden, i.e. topographical subjects. The collection contains very many postcards with historical, cultural-historical and art historical motifs as well as topographical views from other countries.
The collection of postcards at the University Library has been built up by legal deposits and donations.