Art collection

The fine and decorative art collections are predominantly comprised of British material with some Western European and Oriental objects. There are approximately 10,000 pieces, which include: paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, glass, furniture and textiles. The earliest works date from the mid-17th century, whilst the most recent go up to present day.

The paintings are mostly topographical and/or maritime in subject, whilst the prints include work by most of the major landscape artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Many local artists are represented alongside those from elsewhere in Britain who found inspiration in Portsmouth. These include Thomas Rowlandson, Dominic Serres and JMW Turner.

There is a good representation of artists and makers from the 19th and 20th centuries who were born, trained or lived in Portsmouth, such as Derek Boshier, Edward King, and WL Wyllie. Artists associated with the Camden Town Group, including Frank Dobson, Charles Ginner, Sylvia Gosse, Thérèse Lessore and Walter Sickert feature. The Bloomsbury Group of artists are represented with significant hand-painted pieces of furniture by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Dora Carrington.

The fine art collection features a strong range of work associated with the St. Ives Group, with pieces by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Terry Frost, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson. There is also a large representation of women artists, such as Angelica Kauffmann, Elizabeth Blackadder, Gertrude Hermes and Elizabeth Frink.

The decorative art collections contain examples of most British makers and designers, among them Wedgwood, Bow and William de Morgan.

The ceramics has particular strength in 20th century studio ceramics with pieces by Lucie Rie, Bernard Leech and Hans Coper.

The glass collections are richest in 18th century English drinking glasses and in 20th century studio glass. They include pieces by Tiffany and Lalique.

The furniture collection spans a period from 1450 to the present day. Items are principally of domestic use with several fine examples of marquetry alongside a range of simpler pieces. Another important group is a selection of fine mid-late 19th century pieces, well represented by artists such as Augustus Pugin and Christopher Dresser, with 20th century work by Betty Joel, Philip Webb and Charles Eames.

Modern and contemporary crafts are represented through the work such as Philip Eglin, Elizabeth Fritsch, Alan Caiger-Smith and Gordon Baldwin.

To view the paintings in our art collection, please visit the ArtUK website.

Donating to the art collection

We would be interested in donations of modern and contemporary works, either by local artists or designers/artists who have had a personal connection with the city. Some examples include the furniture designer Betty Joel, early ceramic pieces from the 1980s by Grayson Perry and work by Chris le Brun and Derek Boshier. We are always interested in acquiring works by Edward King, particularly those which pre-date 1927 or which have been in private collections.

We have a good collection of 17th and 18th century maritime paintings, but would still be interested in work that increased the representation of artists such as JMW Turner, Thomas Rowlandson, Dominic Serres and William Knell through local scenes they have depicted. Also within this we are always interested in portraits of people who have played a significant role in the history of the city.

We no longer collect Portsmouth-crested souvenir china unless they are very early pieces. We currently have over 200 individual ceramic items in this category.

If you have an item you would like to donate to the art collection please get in touch.

Our donations procedure page has further details on how to make a donation and the processed involved.