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Ben Weinreb Collection of Architectural Drawings

Creator: Weinreb, Ben, 1912-1999
Title: Ben Weinreb Collection of Architectural Drawings
Dates: circa 1500s-1942 (bulk circa 1800s-1942)
Extent: 45 oversize boxes, 5 document boxes, 3 flat file drawers, 2 sculptures (4,201 items)
Abstract: The collection consists of architectural working drawings, as well as drawings of ornaments, furniture, and travel sketches by British, French, German, and Italian architects and artists. Also present are perspective renderings and elevations of English castles and palaces, and ancient Roman structures.
Call Number: Art Collection (AR-00290)
Language: English, Dutch, French, German, and Italian
Access: Open for research. Please note that a minimum of 24 hours notice is required to pull art materials to the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing Room. Some materials may be restricted from viewing. To make an appointment or to reserve Art Collection materials, please contact the Center's staff at Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.

Acquisition: Purchase, 1968
Processed by: Helen Young, 2001

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Ben Weinreb, born February 5, 1912, in Halifax, England, was an antiquarian bookdealer of architectural books. His mother died soon after his birth. When his foreign-born father was interned during World War I as an enemy alien, Weinreb was sent to attend the Princess Christian Training College for Nurses at Withington, Manchester, until his father remarried in 1917. He then spent the rest of his school years at Whitgift’s School at Croydon, where he was not a successful student.
Weinreb’s first job was as an assistant at Foyle’s Bookshop in London, after which he held various jobs connected to the theater – scriptwriter, stage carpenter, and actor. In 1935, he went to work at David Archer’s bookshop, which specialized in poetry and left-wing politics, and it was there that he shared the attic floor with Dylan Thomas. From early on, Weinreb worked on the side as a book runner. In 1937, he married Kay Lazarus, a textile designer, and moved to Hampstead. He served in World War II as a lance-corporal in the Education Corps; during this time he also worked with the film director Carol Reed, making war documentaries. Afterward, he started his first full-time book business in Bognor Regis, the seaside town in West Sussex where his wife had evacuated to during the war. In 1952, Weinreb moved his family back to London and set up a small storeroom on New Oxford Street. After the dissolution of his first marriage, he married Joan Kingdon-Rowe, his father’s secretary, in 1957. In 1960, he opened his shop at 39 Great Russell Street, opposite the British Museum. His major clients included the art collector Paul Mellon and the architect Phyllis Lambert, who founded the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
Weinreb sold his store’s entire stock in 1968 to the University of Texas at Austin. He then moved his business to 93 Great Russell Street and quickly built up the inventory of his new shop. He also joined with Robert Douwma to form Weinreb and Douwma, to deal in maps and atlases, and with James Molloy to deal in recusant material.
In addition to collecting and dealing in books, Weinreb authored and contributed to a number of publications. In 1960, with the help of his partner Paul Bremen and Eileen Harris, Weinreb published the first of his sixty catalogs that set a new standard of scholarly description. He was the co-editor (with Christopher Hibbert) of The London Encyclopaedia (1963); the author of a series of articles for The Times on books and book collecting; and he contributed to his son Matthew Weinreb’s London Architecture: Features and Facades (1993). Weinreb died April 3, 1999, in Henton, Somerset.

Barker, N. (1999). Obituary: Ben Weinreb. The Independent (London), 7 April 1999.
Ben Weinreb [obituary]. The Times (London), 7 April 1999.
Rota, A. (1999). Obituary: Ben Weinreb: Books of changes. The Guardian (London), 12 April 1999.

The Weinreb Collection of Architectural Drawings was part of a larger collection of architectural books, periodicals, manuscripts, artworks, and photograph albums, all purchased in 1968 from Ben Weinreb. The collection consists of 4,201 items including architectural working drawings, as well as drawings of designs, ornaments, furniture, and travel sketches, and two pieces of sculpture. The collection is organized in three Series: I. Works by Named Artists, 1500s-1942 (1,132 items), II. Works by Unidentified. Artists, 1613-1924 (515 items), and III. Sketchbooks and Portfolios, 1758-1927 (2,554 items in fifty-seven sketchbooks or portfolios). Attributions noted in the following item list were made by Ben Weinreb. Titles appearing in the list are transcribed from the items; catalogers’ titles or corrections appear in brackets.
Series I. Works by Named Artists contains the bulk of the collection and comprises works of 18th and 19th century architecture by British, French, and Italian architects and artists. The works in this series are arranged alphabetically by creator and subsequently by accession number when more than a single item by a creator is present. British architects and artists dominate this series and include: Sir Reginald Blomfield, architect and landscape architect; Edward Blore, architect to Queen Victoria and surveyor of Westminster Abbey; George Cattermole, the Dickens illustrator; Thomas Raffles Davison, architectural draughtsman who provided many illustrations for The Builder; Sir John Soane; John Burges Watson; Morris & Co.; and Sir Jeffry Wyatville. There is also a group of twenty perspective renderings of churches, attributed to Sir Charles Barry.
French works include a plan by Louis-François Petit-Radel, a hanging lamp design by Ennemond Alexandre Petot, an elevation drawing by the architect Pierre Rousseau, a drawing of monument designs by François Thiollet, a drawing of a portico attributed to Gabriel Jacques Saint de Aubin, and three drawings attributed to Victor Jean Nicolle.
Italian works found in this series include seven drawings of sculptural figures by Tommaso Arrighetti, a drawing of a wall fountain by Giuseppe Bernardino Bison, an ink drawing by Agostino Mitelli, nine drawings of plans and elevations by Mario Querini, two perspective drawings by Lorenzo Sacchetti, and one watercolor attributed to Jacopo Zucchi.
There are two sculptures, a plaster copy of Edward Pierce’s 1673 portrait bust of Christopher Wren, and a plaster portrait bust of Inigo Jones, possibly by Michael Rysbrack.
There are also forty-seven drawings and etchings (landscapes and figure drawings) by Johannes Fischer.
Series II., Works by Unidentified Artists, which includes drawings of residences, churches, monuments, domes and towers, columns and capitals, fireplaces, ornamental details, etc., has been divided into several subseries: A. Structures; B. Travel Sketches and Landscapes; C. Site Plans; D. Details, Ornaments, and Furnishings; and E. Miscellaneous and Mixed Genres.
Included within this series are perspective renderings, plans, and elevations of a variety of English castles, palaces, and other large residences, including Warwick Castle, Cathcart Castle, Thornbury Castle, Castle Howard, Chatsworth House, Luton Palace, Elton Hall, and Southam Hall. There are also perspective renderings, plans, and elevations of many churches (mostly English), including St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), Westminster Abbey (drawing of the interior, drawing of the coronation chair, and a drawing of the tomb of Henry V), Salisbury Cathedral, Wells Cathedral, Peterborough Cathedral, Great Holland Church (Essex), and Waltham Abbey Church.
Also present are depictions of ancient structures including perspective renderings of the Parthenon, the Arch of Constantine, the Roman Colosseum, a group of twenty drawings of sections of Trajan’s Column, Cleopatra’s Needle in London, and a collection of fifty-four drawings of plans, elevations, and architectural details from the ancient Roman structures, including the Theater in Taormina (Sicily), the Temple of Jupiter Stator (Rome), the Temple of Mars Ultor (Rome), the House of Sallust (Pompeii), and the Temple of Concord (Rome).
Among other structures represented in the collection are Middle Temple Hall, Chateau Blois courtyard stair tower, monuments to Louis XV, the Blue Coat School (Westminster), and plans of various fortifications and monasteries.
Series III., Sketchbooks and Portfolios, is arranged alphabetically by creator and includes thirty-six sketchbooks and twelve portfolios. Among the sketchbooks are seven of Sir Reginald Blomfield and sixteen books of travel sketches of Sir Thomas Graham Jackson. Additional sketchbooks include those of Sir Walter John Tapper, Elizabeth Wickins, A. B. Higham, and one attributed to Edward Blore. The portfolios and larger bound groups of drawings include: a portfolio of seven drawings of sculptural figures by the 18th century painter Tommaso Arrighetti; a bound portfolio of plans and elevations of Ightham Mote Manor, Kent, by Richard Norman Shaw of the English Domestic Revival movement; a display portfolio of baluster styles from the firm Trollope and Sons; and a portfolio of molding details from Petworth, by Jonathan Ritson.

Additional Weinreb materials at the Ransom Center are located in the Library, Manuscript Collection, and Vertical File Collection.


Arrighetti, Tommaso, active 1758-1775.
Ashpital, Arthur, 1807-1869.
Barry, Charles, the elder, 1795-1860.
Bison, Giuseppe Bernadino, 1762-1844.
Blomfield, Reginald, 1856-1942.
Blore, Edward, 1787-1879.
Calcott, Augustus Wall.
Cattermole, George, 1800-1868.
Daniell, Thomas, 1749-1840.
Daniell, William, 1769-1837.
Davison, Thomas Raffles, 1853-1937.
Fischer, Johannes, 1888-1955.
Flaxman, John, 1755-1826.
George, Ernest, 1839-1922.
Masters, Charles Harcourt, born 1759.
Masey, Philip E., active 1875-1878.
Mitelli, Agostino, 1609-1660.
Nicolle, Victor Jean, 1754-1826.
Parris, Edmund Thomas, 1793-1873.
Petit-Radel, Louise-François, 1739-1808.
Pierce, Edward, II, circa 1635-1695.
Railton, William, died 1877.
Rousseau, Pierre, 1751-1810.
Sacchetti, Lorenzo (Italian painter and lithographer, born 1759, died after 1830.
Saint-Aubin, Gabriel de, 1724-1780.
Soane, John, 1753-1837.
Shaw, Richard Norman, 1831-1912.
Tapper, Walter John, 1861-1935.
Thiollet, François, 1782-1864.
Tite, William, 1798-1873.
Watts, George Frederick, 1817-1904.
Watson, John Burgesss, active from 1819, died 1847.
Weinreb, Ben, 1912-1999.
Wyatville, Jeffry, 1766-1840.
Zucchi, Jacopo, born circa 1540, died 1589 or 1590.


Morris & Co. (London, England).


Architect-designed furniture.
Architect-designed windows.
Church buildings.
Cleopatra's Needle (London, England).
Interior architecture.
Iliad of Homer.
Jones, Inigo, 1573-1652.
Room layout (Dwellings).
Travel sketches.
Wren, Christopher, 1632-1723.
Westminster Abbey.

Document Types

Charcoal drawings.
Crayon drawings.
Ink drawings.
Pencil works.
Wash drawings.