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History of Art - Visual Resources Centre: Cohn Bequest

Cohn Bequest

The Cohn Bequest is a collection of art print plates dating from the turn of the twentieth century. It was compiled by Dr. William Cohn (1880-1961), probably as part of his doctoral research. Cohn was later the first keeper of the Museum of Eastern Art, a subdivision of the Ashmolean Museum at the time.

The collection mostly covers Western art, from Ancient Greece to the early twentieth century but there is some minimal material on Islamic art. The material is taken predominately from art educational publications of the time such as Georg Hirth's Der Formenschatz de Renaissance, and from contemporary museum publications such as the Germanisches Nationalmuseum's Hanszeichnungem alter Meister aus der Albertina, Meisterwerke der Bildschnitszerkunst.

Cohn removed his material form the looseleaf portfolios in which it was published and rearranged it according to his own system, supplementing it with additions of his own.

The collection comprises 3 folios and about 300 smaller folders arranged under 62 subheadings, lettered in two distinctive later nineteenth-century hands. There is an index account book by one of the same hands.


The Visual Resources Centre is open

Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm

Friday 9am - 4pm

If you would like to view the collections or have a question related to the resources please email the Visual Resources Assistant Francesca Issatt at

01865 286839

History of Art Department
University of Oxford
Suite 9, Littlegate House
St Ebbe’s, Oxford
OX1 1PT, United Kingdom