17th century portrait of Dervorguilla of Galloway showing her full length and face on, holding two armorial crests in each hand

Busts, Statues and Portraits

Busts and statues

The Reading Room contains bronze busts of distinguished members of Balliol: the first Earl of Oxford and Asquith (Prime Minister 190816), William Beveridge: Baron Beveridge of Tuggal (social reformer), the first Baron Lindsay of Birker (Master, 192449), and William Coolidge (benefactor). A small statuette of William Gladstone sits in the classics section.

Above the bookcase at the east end of the Old Library is a wooden statue of St Catherine, accompanied by reclining angels. She was formerly the centrepiece over the door of the Chapel screen, carved c.1635 as part of the adornment required under Archbishop Laud.

Among other portrait busts elsewhere in the Library are a marble bust of Robert Browning by his son Pen, a profile relief of the head of Arnold Toynbee in white marble, and a plaster bust of Matthew Arnold. We also have the death mask of Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet.


At the north end of the Reading Room is the portrait of Sir Thomas Wendy (161373) a bibliophile, whose library of over 2000 volumes came to the College in 1677. On either side are the poet Robert Southey, who came to Balliol in 1792, and Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham. At the south end are Matthew Baillie, Physician Extraordinary to King George III, and three subjects whose papers are in the Library: Robert Browning (painted by his son), Sir Robert Morier (diplomat), and Benjamin Jowett (Master 187093).

Among the portraits in the Old Library are those of George Abbot (one of the translators of King James’ Authorized Version of the Bible, and Archbishop of Canterbury 161133), John Kyrle, the ‘Man of Ross’ mentioned by Pope, Epistle iii, 250 ‘On the Use of Riches’ 1709, F.F. Urquhart, who gave the Library the papers of his father David Urquhart, and fanciful representations of Dervorguilla and John de Balliol, painted in 1670. A reproduction of a drawing of Sir Theodore Tylor, former Tutor in Jurisprudence, hangs outside the Law Library. On the Library Landing is the portrait of William Rogers, Rector of St Botolph’s Bishopsgate and founder of the Bishopsgate Institute, an educational reformer.