The collections comprise Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan antiquities, English watercolours, Modern British paintings, Japanese prints, photographs, sculpture, manuscripts, rare Bibles, printed books, coins, stamps and natural history. There is also a set of Stuart Devlin’s parcel gilt Easter eggs. Designed in the tradition of Fabergé, each egg contains a surprise when opened, such as a jester, a fish in seaweed or a mouse in a wedge of cheese.
Sir Winston Churchill’s A Distant View of Venice, 1929 is one of the highlights of the collection. It is an excellent example of his robust and energetic style. Churchill is above all a colourist. He captured the essence of the Venetian colour in the city, the clouds and their reflections in the water. The bravura brushwork gives texture to the surface of the canvas, from the impasto in the sky to the long, fluid strokes in the water. His enthusiasm was inexhaustible. In his essay Painting as a Pastime, he wrote: "When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject."
Not all of the collections can be displayed at the same time but the following items are usually on show: Greek and Egyptian antiquities, paintings by Romney, Sir Winston Churchill, David Jones and Dan Llywelyn Hall, portrait busts of Old Harrovians such as Byron and Sheridan as well as a recently acquired Chinese Imperial table screen.
Recent exhibitions from the collections include Defining Mementoes: An exploration of the nature of mementoes and the reasons we treasure them (2012); Cecil Beaton's Portrait Photographs (2012); Revealing Byron (2012); The Hill Then and Now (2012); Aspects of Albion (2013); About Turn: The best of the BAMS collection (2013).
- Collection of 117 stamp albums from the bequest of David Guilford (Druries 1944²), July 2011.
- Watercolour by Edward Lear: View of the Plains of Argos and Mycenae, presented by an anonymous donor, July 2011.
- Set of Chinese coins from the Tang to the Qing Dynasty, presented to the Head Master by Harrow International School, Beijing, September 2011.
- Etching by Damian Elwes (West Acre 1974¹): Old Schools, 1979, presented by the artist, November 2011.
- Two 19th-century Chinese snuff bottles, presented by Denise Lo, Mother of Alastair Wong (Elmfield 2009³), January 2012.
- Chinese Imperial table screen in cinnabar lacquer, Qing Dynasty, presented by Frank Lo, Grandfather of Alastair Wong (Elmfield 2009³), June 2012.
- Fourteen 18-19th century prints of Harrow-on-the-Hill, acquired from Mrs Judith Cleveland, July 2012.
The Old Speech Room Gallery App
The OSRG App is now available to Gallery visitors and is free to download. It introduces sixteen items from the permanent displays as well as featuring some of the treasures that are not usually on exhibition.