Prints are valued for their mechanical and technical aspects, as well as aesthetic merits. This collection contains a wide and fascinating range of subject matter and techniques in works dating from the 16th to the mid 20th century.
One of the largest groups represented in the collection is of topographical interest with subject matter relating to the buildings and landscapes of Exeter and Devon. They allow us to visualise the changing landscape through time. Some prints depict historic events in both city and county. Many of these prints date from the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were issued in book or folio form.
Engraved portraits also form a second group of several hundred works from both Britain and Europe. These prints were produced for sale in large numbers during the 18th and 19th centuries. They depict an extensive range of subjects from the worlds of royalty, politics, science, literature and the arts, to eminent military and naval figures.
This collection contains outstanding examples of modern printmaking contained in the collections include late 19th century commercially-produced prints such as those by London Transport and Empire Marketing Board posters from 1910 onwards and 20th century limited edition lithographs such works by artists like Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash.