Stay In The Loop - Sign Up For Email Alerts
Plymouth - Britain's Ocean City Summer Reading Challenge


Mail :
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
Phone :
01752 304774
Email :
Fax :
01752 304775


Link to BBC Paintings

Arts Council England logo

Fine art

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has acquired two important new acquisitions by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) - the Self-Portrait (1746) was painted on his return to Plymouth in 1746, shortly after his apprenticeship to Thomas Hudson in London, and the sketchbook dates to 1750-2 and was compiled by Reynolds while in Italy. You can find more online about these items and our Reynolds events.

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has a large and important fine art collection. With over 800 paintings, 3000 watercolours and drawings, over 5000 prints and small collections of sculpture and miniatures, it represents the largest fine art collection in Devon and Cornwall.

The works span the 16th to 21st centuries and include examples from a wide range of European schools. The vast majority are English and date from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Within the art collections, but retained as a separate entity is the Cottonian collections. This designated collection contains small groups of ceramics, bronzes and paintings, several hundred Old Master and English drawings and watercolours, and a substantial body of several thousand fine and rare prints. Together with a sizeable library of some two thousand tomes, this outstanding collection is of international importance. Initiated in the late 1740s by Charles Rogers, who amassed a substantial quantity of prints and drawings, it was passed through three successive generations of the Cotton family until it was finally opened as a public collection in 1853. This was transferred to Plymouth Corporation in 1915/1916 by an Act of Parliament.

The south west has a rich artistic heritage and this is reflected in the content of the collections. There are many works by prominent local artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, James Northcote, Samuel Prout, Charles Locke Eastlake and Benjamin Robert Haydon.

With its geographical connection to Cornwall there are many views of the region as a whole and of Cornwall, Plymouth and its environs in particular. This includes a large representation of work by artists of the 19th century Newlyn School, as well as good 20th century collections including works by the St Ives and Camden Town Groups.

Our oil paintings are now online - visit Your Paintings to see our entire permanent collection. The website was created by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF), in partnership with the BBC.