Objects from the collection - Eight thumbnail images of collection objects including a painting by Reynolds, sculpture and several drawings and prints

Welcome to the Cottonian Collection

An outstanding art collection assembled by Charles Rogers FRS FSA (1711 to 1784) which presents a fascinating glimpse into the achievements of an 18th century English connoisseur. It comprises oil paintings, Old Master and English drawings and watercolours, sculpture, furniture and ceramics, a library, Reynolds material and a collection of seven thousand or so fine prints. The collection was gifted to the people of Plymouth in 1852 by William Cotton MA FSA (1794 to 1863).

Formed during the 18th century and gifted '... for the purposes of amusement and instruction by the inhabitants of the Towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport and their vicinity... ' in 1852, it finally opened as a public Collection the following year. It was later transferred to the Plymouth Corporation in 1915/6 by an Act of Parliament and is now on permanent display in one of the upper floor galleries.

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has been awarded £49,945 from the Arts Council England's Designation Development Fund to carry out some much needed research and conservation work on the historic furniture. Find out more on the furniture project page where you can download our Cottonian Furniture Guide.

The Friends of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery are currently fundraising to help us acquire two important items from the great Sir Joshua Reynolds' early career. For more information or to donate please visit The Friends of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery website.