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Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design: Museum and Study Collection

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Cecil Collins, 'Head in a Tree', 1944

The museum has its roots in the Teaching Examples Collection, which was established by W. R. Lethaby when he was art inspector for the Technical Education Board of the LCC. It was transferred to the Central School when he became the first principal in 1896. The Teaching Examples are early printed books, prints, Japanese woodcuts, German film posters, illuminated manuscripts and artefacts used as teaching aids in the early days of the Central School of Arts and Crafts. There is a large study collection of books used as teaching examples and an archive of material on the history of the founding colleges and Central Saint Martins. It also includes work by well-known early staff and students including W.R.Lethaby, Eric Gill, Edward Johnston and J.H Mason and his students in the School of Book Production. Other collections were added later and the Central Saint Martins Museum Collection now aims to collect work by former staff and students of both founding colleges, The Central School of Arts and Crafts, later Design and St Martin's School of Art as well as Central Saint Martins. These images can only give a taste of what the Collection contains. To view the complete database, see

William Lethaby, Drawing of the Entrance to the Chrysotriclinium, 1889

W.R. Lethaby

The museum has a large collection of works by W.R. Lethaby who was the founding principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, as well as architect and designer. It includes drawings for architectural and decorative designs, watercolours, letters, photographs and a substantial collection of his published works. Browse works by W.R. Lethaby

Print Collection

The large print collection includes early wood-cuts with sheets from the Nuremberg Chronicle and work by Burgkmair and Durer used as Teaching Examples. The collection of work by Noel Rooke and his pupils show the revival of the art of wood engraving, which took place at the Central School in the early twentieth century. There is a large collection of work by John Farleigh, Clare Leighton, Gertrude Hermes, Blair Hughes-Stanton and many others. In addition there are etchings and lithographs produced both for commercial use and as fine art throughout the twentieth century. Artists include Edmund Blampied, Cecil Collins, Anthony Gross and F.E.Jackson. Browse Print Collection

Norman Ackroyd, 'The Furthest Lands', one of ten sketchings from the edge of the British Isles, 2005

Norman Ackroyd

Central Saint Martins owns one of only three complete collections of this artist's books of etchings, which have been produced since 1973 with an annual volume appearing since 1986. There are now 26 of these. Each artist's book consists of a series of etchings presented as separate sheets in a solander box and each book is devoted to a specific area or several different areas in the British Isles, A Cumberland Journey, From Skellig to Skibbereen, The Pictish Coast and Song for Ireland are some examples. Ackroyd who taught etching at the Central School for over 30 years has done much of the work seen in these books in situ going out in all weathers travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles. Browse etchings by Norman Ackroyd

Jeanetta Cochrane, Costume design - male figure in 18th Century coat and breeches

Theatre Design

An important department in the Central School of Arts and Crafts, later Design, the collection of theatre costume design has been acquired by purchase and donation from alumni or their families. The designers included are Jeannetta Cochrane, founder of the original course in 1930 and a major influence in theatre costume design until her death in 1957, Pegaret Anthony and Sheila Jackson. There is a large collection of papers and teaching materials from the collection of Margaret Woodward joint author of The Cut of Women's Clothes who taught on the course for many years. In 2005 a grant from the AHRC enabled many of the costume designs to be conserved. Browse Theatre Design

Japanese Print Collection

The Japanese prints were purchased by Lethaby as teaching examples to support the innovative classes run by Frank Morley Fletcher in which he introduced Japanese wood-block printing methods into his printmaking classes at the Central School in 1899. The collection consists of individual wood-block prints and several albums depicting childrens games, flora and fauna and actor prints. They date from the late 18th to mid 19th century, and are particularly rich in the highly stylised images of the Kabuki theatre. They decorated the entrance of the original Central School building. Browse Japanese Print Collection

German Film Posters

The German film posters in the collection focus on a small number of silent films produced by the film company UFA during the early 1920s. Because of their ephemeral nature it is rare to find such a large collection. Although we do not know how they were acquired there is evidence of several contacts between the School and Germany during this period. The posters with their striking designs must have played an important role in the study of graphic art and design. Browse German Film Posters

Doris A. Carter, Theatre [Fabric length and two samples], c. 1928

Joyce Clissold Collection

This collection of work by Joyce Clissold and her Footprints workshop was donated to the College by the Clissold family after her death, together with the copyright of her designs. Joyce Clissold was a student at the Central School from 1924 to 1927 and taught Textile Design there from 1936 to 1940. The collection consists of hand block printed textile lengths, garments and swatches on a variety of fabrics; blocks, dye ledgers, designs on paper and ephemera. Browse Joyce Clissold Collection

Colleen Farr, 'Fantasy', design for Liberty, London

Textile Design

Due to a number of generous donations, textiles is one of the largest parts of the Collection. In addition to the Clissold material we have collections of work by several former staff and students. Colleen Farr, prolific designer for Liberty and other companies, Mary Harper and Mary Oliver designers of screen printed fabrics, Diana Armfield, textile designer now better known as a painter, Eileen Ellis and Marianne Straub both woven textile designers and a collection of garments by Bill Gibb who was a student at St Martin's. Browse Textiles

School of Book Production

The collection of books printed and bound in the Central School can be compared to that of a private press although they were not produced for sale on a commercial basis. The School of Production was headed by J.H. Mason, formerly of the Doves Press and his influence can be seen in the work produced by Central School pupils. Douglas Cockerel was responsible for bookbinding and Emery Walker and Cobden Sanderson acted as advisors. Wood engraving for book illustration worked closely with the Book Production Course from 1905. Browse School of Book Production

Examples of The Architecture of Venice selected and drawn from the edifices - reprinted from the stones of Venice, John Ruskin, 1851

Teaching Books

The museum has an extensive collection of illustrated books. These were an important part of the Teaching Examples Collection as Lethaby advocated the use of first-rate examples reproduced in books as an important alternative to originals when these were not available. The books used in teaching cover a wide range of subjects including architecture, design, fashion, textiles, heraldry, natural history and metalwork. There are also some early printed books. Browse Teaching Books

Lettering and Calligraphy

Two of the most influential teachers in these fields taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Eric Gill taught stone carving and lettering and later became a well-known sculptor and typographer. Edward Johnston taught writing and illuminating at the Central School and Royal College of Art and is generally regarded as the 'father' of the early twentieth-century revival of lettering influencing both British and German designers. Browse Lettering and Calligraphy

William de Morgan, Tile: floral leaf and arch decoration, 1888-1897

Fine Art

This is a broad category and includes a wide range of work some of which is shown here. The illuminated manuscripts are of particular interest as they are part of the original Teaching Examples Collection. The Collection holds some illuminated books but it mainly consists of illuminated pages and letters cut out from 14th or 15th century manuscripts. There is also a 15th century Portolan Chart on vellum. The William De Morgan tiles were part of the original Teaching Examples. There is a wide-ranging collection of work by former staff and students including Bernard Meninsky, W.R.Lethaby, Posy Simmonds, Cecil Collins and Hans Tisdall. There is a collection of the war drawings done by Pegaret Anthony. Browse Fine Art


Recent acquisitions of ceramics focus on the influential post-war Ceramics Course at the Central School which produced many well known ceramicists. Browse Ceramics

Blair Hughes-Stanton, 'The Moon', 1933
Address: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Museum & Study Collection
Southampton Row
Tel: +44 (0) 207 514 7146
Fax: +44 (0) 207 514 7024

Use of the Collection: If you would like access to the collection please contact us first as some items are in store. It is available for research and study on a regular basis.

Copyright: All the images on this database are the copyright of Central Saint Martins Museum Collection, University of the Arts, London and where appropriate individual copyright holders. They may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holders.
If you wish to reproduce an image from the Collection please contact the museum.

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