The Fitzwilliam Museum owes its foundation to Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion who, in 1816, bequeathed to the University of Cambridge his works of art and library, together with funds to house them, to further "the Increase of Learning and other great Objects of that Noble Foundation".
Fitzwilliam's bequest included Dutch paintings he inherited through his maternal grandfather and the masterpieces by Titian, Veronese and Palma Vecchio he acquired at the Orléans sales in London. During a lifetime of collecting, he filled more than 500 folio albums with engravings. His library included 130 medieval manuscripts and a collection of autograph music by composers like Handel and Purcell.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the collections grew by gift, bequest and purchase. In recent years, the Museum's traditional base of support from alumni and private collectors has been augmented by generous provision from the National Art Collections Fund and other charitable organizations and public bodies.
Few museums in the world contain on a single site collections of such variety and depth. Highlights include masterpieces of painting from the fourteenth century to the present day, drawings and prints, sculpture, furniture, armour, pottery and glass, oriental art, illuminated manuscripts, coins and medals and antiquities from Egypt, the Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome and Cyprus.
For further information please see the Museum’s website.
The Fitzwilliam Museum has graciously contributed images from their collections to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For any further use, visitors should contact the Image Library, Fitzwilliam Museum via firstname.lastname@example.org.