Art and Design-subject

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Art and Design

We have a wealth of resources in a variety of formats for covering a wide variety of topics to interest everyone from the casual browser to those carrying out detailed research. We also have some lovely examples of art and design in our carpets.


About our collections

Art and Design is an area that we have collected and curated since the library opened, providing an impressive collection of materials for lending and reference particular in relation to Scottish interest.

Our folio art book collection can be found on Level 4. This is a strong collection of large format art books, spanning the worlds of fine art, architecture, graphic design and photography.

Monographs by Scottish fine artists such as Joan Eardley, the Scottish Colourists and Sir Henry Raeburn are available alongside contemporary artists like John Bellany, Alison Watt and Douglas Gordon. This collection also includes archived catalogues from exhibitions run in Scottish galleries.

Most of this collection is available for reference only and can be viewed or browsed at your leisure in any of the Mitchell Library’s study areas.

We have a large number of periodicals (magazines), both ongoing subscriptions and historical holdings covering many art and design subjects. A selection of titles we hold is available Art and Design Periodicals (PDF, 151KB)

We also have n number of online databases that can offer support with research. During the Coronavirus Pandemic the Guggenheim Museum in New York has made more than 200 books about modern art available online. Not only can you read them online, but you can download them in PDF or ePub formats—for free—at the Internet Archive.


Featured collections

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Page from Rodez Book of Hours late 14th century

The Mitchell Library, although not a specialist art and design library, has an extensive collection of published works by artists and on art history and criticism. This is complemented by several small collections of original artworks in Special Collections. We’ve highlighted some of these collections below.

Robert Carrick Collection

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Cathedral Square, Barony Church and Royal Infirmary by Robert Carrick, c1852

Robert Carrick (1820-1905) was a Scottish artist and lithographer born in Calton, Glasgow. He worked in Allan & Ferguson, the same lithographic studio as the artist William Simpson. Carrick moved to London to become a full-time artist, was elected a member of The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1828 and also became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Carrick was a meticulous, highly accomplished engraver and watercolour artist. The watercolours of Glasgow from the early part of his career are subtly drawn and beautifully coloured. Several of the William Simpson watercolours in Views and Notices of Glasgow in Former Times (1871) are noted as taken from a drawing by Robert Carrick.

You can view a selection of his paintings on the SCRAN website.

Finding aid

Robert Carrick Watercolours (PDF, 77KB)


Thomas Fairbairn Collection

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View of Glasgow Bridge by Thomas Fairbairn, c1849.

Thomas Fairbairn (1820-1884) was an art teacher and prominent local watercolourist and one of the last of the city’s pre-photography illustrators.

As a young man he worked as a shop assistant with a firm of dyers while studying art at evening classes in Glasgow with tutors such as John A Gilfillan and Andrew Donaldson. He went on to paint a series of watercolours in 1844-1849 depicting scenes in Glasgow, including the Old College, the Cathedral and Glasgow Green.

You can view a selection of his paintings on the SCRAN website.

Finding aid

Thomas Fairbairn Collection (PDF, 108KB)


Meldrum Collection

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Page from the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition Catalogue

The Meldrum Collection is made up of correspondence, catalogues, photographs, ephemera, newspaper clippings covering period 1933 to 1979, relating to the 1933 Charles Rennie Mackintosh Memorial exhibition.

Finding aid

Meldrum Collection finding aid (PDF, 158KB)

William Simpson Collection

Govan on the Clyde by William Simpson, c1842

Special Collections has several hundred watercolours, drawings, sketches and scrapbooks created or collected by William Simpson (1823-1899), the Glasgow-born lithographer, painter, journalist and pioneering war artist.

You can find more information on the main William Simpson Collection page 

Finding aid

William Simpson Collection list of paintings. (PDF, 187KB).


David Small Collection

Old Ship Bank by David Small c1880

David Small (1845-1927) was born in Kinross, and worked as a cashier in Glasgow before becoming chief artist for the Dundee Advertiser. He illustrated two books on Glasgow: Sketches of quaint bits of Glasgow, 1887 and Bygone Glasgow, 1896 which are available to consult in Special Collections. Small was a prolific painter and photographer with a sympathetic eye for old buildings and streets. The Mitchell Library holds a number of his watercolours of Glasgow, and he also made paintings of Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee and Fife.

You can view, and buy, copies of the David Small watercolours on the Glasgow Museums Photolibrary website .

Finding aid

David Small Paintings (PDF, 75KB)

Paintings in Glasgow Libraries

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Stephen Mitchell unknown artist, Mitchell Library

View the paintings in our Image Gallery


Contact us

We welcome feedback from library users.

Contact us to let us know how we are doing or if you want to find out more.