The Collection was the life-long project of Ruth Borchard (1910-2000), an extraordinary patron of the arts. Between 1958 and 1971, Borchard collected one hundred self-portraits by British, Irish and British-based artists. The essays on the self-portraits originally collected by Ruth Borchard – as well as on those in the Early and Next Generation Collections – are written by Philip Vann.
The Next Generation Collection currently consists of 88 self-portraits and is continually growing, brought together through purchases from the biennial Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize.
Begun in 2016, the Early Collection will expand the collection to include pre-WWII self-portraits, and thus the collection will encompass the entirety of the twentieth-century.