The collection predominantly holds British works dating from 1650 to the present, including local artists WJ Blacklock, Sheila Fell and Winifred Nicholson.
Artists from the 19th-century include Samuel Palmer as well as the Pre-Raphaelites. The modern collection was acquired through a purchase scheme (1933 — 1975) under the guidance of William Rothenstein, Edward Le Bas, Carel Weight and Roger de Grey. Key artists represented include Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis, Vanessa Bell and Lucien Pissarro.
There are contemporary works by Conrad Atkinson, Peter Blake, Andy Goldsworthy and the wonderful, recently purchased nature painting by Kieth Tyson that hangs amongst the display of the museum’s archeology collection.
In 1940 Tullie House received a major bequest of over eight hundred pieces of 18th and 19th-century English porcelain from Robert Hardy Williamson of West Cumbria, forming the bulk of the gallery’s craft collection. Over one hundred works are on permanent display in the Jacobean portion of Tullie House. The temporary exhibition programme is vital to animating the collection.
Its hard to understand the layout of the museum from the outside. Arranged within a number of buildings one moves from the smaller historic parts of the building to the larger spaces that have been more recently refurbished.
The walls of the staircases and corridors are hung with the collection, including great examples of Stanley Spencer and the most wonderful Wyndham Lewis portrait I have ever come across. The contemporary exhibition programme is well worth a visit in the generous spaces on the ground floor.