Worcester City’s Art Collection includes oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints and sculptures, photography and video. It is a very diverse collection with individual important works such as A Prospect of Worcester 1750 and Chadding on Mounts Bay by Stanhope Forbes and has strengths in key areas such as 19th century landscape and watercolour painting.
The collection has a predominance of landscape painting from the 19th century. Local artists are well represented, particularly work by Benjamin Williams Leader who was born in Worcester and was seen as one of the great landscape painters of his generation. The gallery also has important work by Henry Harris Lines and Harry Adams.
The Sale Bequest
The Sale Bequest is perhaps one of the most important groups of work held by the museum and includes a total of 84 works gifted to the museum in 1915. The Sales of Holt in Worcestershire were described by a friend as: “people of cultured taste who could afford to travel widely and indulge their interest in art”.
Mrs Sale is described as a discriminating critic and an accomplished artist herself and it is thought that is was Mrs Sale that influenced the collection.The Sales bequeathed their collection to the nation at a time before Worcester had its own museum. However by 1915 Worcester had built its own gallery and when the representatives from the British Museum came to view the Sale collection they chose far fewer works than had been anticipated and subsequently the majority of the collection came to Worcester. The collection includes work by David Cox, Samual Prout, Peter de Wint, Thomas Sidney Cooper and William Callow.
20th Century Paintings
The gallery has a small collection of 20th century paintings, which is very broad in subject ranging from early modernism to abstraction. This intriguing collection includes work by Stanhope Forbes, Laura Knight, Charles Ginner, Bernard Meninsky, Alan Davie and Duncan Grant.
During the 1960s and 1970s the gallery built up a small, but important collection of prints by modern and contemporary artists including work by Howard Hodgkin, Barbara Hepworth and Elizabeth Frink.
21st Century Artwork
Worcester was part of the Contemporary Art Society collecting scheme in the early 2000s, enabling the addition to the collection of works by contemporary artists investigating the theme of landscape.