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Collection Summary

Collection Title
The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is formed around the core of art and objects assembled by our founders and given to the Borough of Bournemouth in 1921. Around this are the collecting responses of subsequent curators. Within the core of Russell-Cotes’ collection of paintings are a number of family related portraits in oils connected to their families in both Staffordshire and Glasgow. We also have two fine portraits of the founders themselves by John Henry Lorimer that reveal their characters rather well. The Russell-Cotes is known for its 19th century art but the collections do also contain some interesting earlier portraits. Leading this group are some attributed to Sir Peter Lely and ‘Edmund Waller the Poet’ attributed to Sir Godfrey Kneller.

Within our 19th century painting collection are a number of portraits of local figures, for example the ‘founder’ of Bournemouth Captain Lewis Dymoke Tregonwell, author Robert Louis Stevenson plus Mayors, Aldermen and other officials. Thanks to the interests of Sir Merton there is a strong theatrical theme to our collections and this is reflected in our portraits. Within this group we hold a striking painting of Ellen Terry by E.M. Hale. The museum also has matching studies of Terry and Sir Henry Irving by W.E. Lockart. We also have a large portrait by James Archer titled ‘Henry Irving as Charles I’ which was a particular favourite of Sir Merton’s. The class consciousness of our founders is reflected in a very large portrait of King Edward VII by Phillip Tennyson Cole and Francois Xavier Winterhalter’s ‘Empress Eugenie of France’.

After the death of Sir Merton in 1921 the museum’s first curators collected in response to his collection adding a number of fine painted portraits by 20th century artists. Within this group, which includes and number of War Artist Advisory Committee works, are artists such as Henry Lamb, William Bruce Ellis Ranken, Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, Reginald Grenville Eves and Maxwell Armfield. There is a distinct group of self-portraits which includes work by Walford Graham Robertson, Lord Neville Lytton, John Minton and Charles Pears. We also have a few works of other artists – chief amongst these is Sir A.J. Mannings ‘Mrs Dodd Proctor on Patrick’ which is also one of our leading equestrian paintings and 'Studio Interior [A portrait of Sir William Orpen KBE, RA 1878-1931]' by James Sleator.

There are not many portrait drawings in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum collection but we do hold some significant works such as ‘Charlotte Bronte’ by George Redmond, ‘Margeret Thom’ by Edward Fellowes Prynne and ‘Baden-Powell’ (the founder of the Boy Scouts) by Augustus John. Many are from the WAAC like ‘Mr Morton, Works Manager’ by Stanley Spencer, ‘Able Seaman Povey’ and ‘Fusiler Perrin’ by Eric Kennington, 'Air Vice Marshall L.O. Brown CBE DSC AFC' by William Dring, 'Flight Lieutenant E.A. Sanders DFC (Rear gunner with Wight-Boycott)' by Sir William Rothestein and ‘The Gun Mountings Officer Cmdr (E) H.J.B. Moore RN’ by William Russell Flint.

Much of the sculpture in our collection is by 19th century European artists and most of our portrait busts are of eminent Victorians such as Florence Nightingale and Prime Minister Disraeli. We have a bust of Sir Henry Irving by Courtney Pollock and, of course, our founders which they obtained in Italy on one of their world trips. There are also busts of the sort of people the Victorians admired such as Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon Bonaparte, Shakespeare, Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI and Admiral Lord Nelson. Other highlights in sculpture collection is a bronze of Lord Leighton by Sir Thomas Brock, a small version of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta’s ‘Queen Victoria’ (the full size one is in Kensington Gardens, London), ‘John Landseer’ (the father of the artist) by John Adams Acton and the very popular ‘George Bernard Shaw’ by Kathleen Scott (later Lady Kennet).
Date range of collection
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
general interest
Associated Places
Associated Times

Location Details

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery And Museum
East Cliff Bournemouth BH1 3AA United Kingdom
Open Map
01202 451 858
01202 451 851 
Building Information
Built in 1897, East Cliff Hall is an extravagant version of an Italianate seaside villa. It is a Grade II* listed building. The house is richly decorated with stained glass, stencilwork and elaborate woodwork.
Collections Overview
The museum houses a collection of Victorian and Edwardian paintings, complemented by sculpture, decorative art and furniture, and a modern art collection. There are also commissions of contemporary craft and sculpture. Much of the original collection was amassed during world travels by Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes
Display Overview
The displays are wide ranging covering fine, decorative and applied art, and also antiquities, local and social history, arms and armour, ethnography, natural history and numismatics.
Star Objects
East Cliff Hall, the building housing the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum; Rossetti's 'Venus Verticordia'; Albert Moore's 'Midsummer'.
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

Related Publications
Management Information (Type)
  • Museum.
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
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Associated Collection(s)

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