British Art in the collection includes paintings, drawings and sculptures executed by artists born in England, Wales or Ireland and contains over 60 oil paintings, 54 watercolours, 39 prints, 3 drawings and 7 pieces of sculpture. The collection contains works dating from the eighteenth century to the contemporary period. There are nineteenth century English landscapes, Victorian narrative, history and genre paintings with several important artists from this period represented in the collection.
Particularly noteworthy are a group of five watercolours on Italian and Spanish subjects by John Frederick Lewis and a group of oil paintings on Inverclyde subjects by the marine artist Robert Salmon. In addition, there significant works of high quality by Sam Bough, Gerald L. Brockhurst, Sir Alfred East, Charles Napier Hemy, Louis Bosworth Hurt, Dame Laura Knight, John Linnell; Lord Frederic Leighton, Frank Henry Mason, Sir Alfred John Munnings and works by the Irish artists Sir William Orpen and Seán Keating.
There a wide variety of printmaking techniques represented including engraving, aquatint, lithography and etching. Many of the works are early nineteenth century commercial prints but there also works by significant British printmakers such as William Daniell and William Henry Bartlett, William Lionel Wyllie, Augustus Edwin John and Edward Bawden.
The collection also includes sculpture, the most notable work being a full length marble sculpture of James Watt by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, housed in the Watt Library, Greenock). The rest of the collection consists largely of sculptural busts in plaster and marble. Although relatively small, the McLean Museum’s British Art collection contains works of national and international importance such as those by John Frederick Lewis, Robert Salmon and Lord Frederick Leighton.
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