York Art Gallery

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York Art Gallery
York Art Gallery.jpg
York Art Gallery and statue of William Etty
Established1882 (1882)
LocationYork, United Kingdom
Coordinates53°57′46″N 1°05′11″W / 53.962873°N 1.086278°W / 53.962873; -1.086278Coordinates: 53°57′46″N 1°05′11″W / 53.962873°N 1.086278°W / 53.962873; -1.086278
TypeArt museum
Key holdingsBritish Studio Pottery, Views of York, William Etty
CollectionsWestern European paintings, British paintings, prints, watercolours, drawings, ceramics
Visitors60, 788 (2016)[1]
OwnerYork Museums Trust
Portrait of Giovanni Battista Agucchi by his friend Domenichino, 1615–1620

York Art Gallery in York, England is a public art gallery with a collection of paintings from 14th-century to contemporary, prints, watercolours, drawings, and ceramics. It closed for major redevelopment in 2013, reopening in summer of 2015. It is managed by York Museums Trust.


The gallery was created to provide a permanent building as the core space for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition of 1879, the first in 1866 occupied a temporary chalet in the grounds of Bootham Asylum. Following the 1879 exhibition the renamed Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Institution aimed to create a permanent art exhibition. It was given a major boost by the bequest of York collector John Burton (1799–1882) of more than one hundred 19th-century paintings, supplemented by gifts and in the early years two major temporary loan collections. In 1888 the north galleries were leased to York School of Art, which moved there in 1890 from Minster Yard.[2][3]

York City Council purchased the buildings and collection in 1892. Temporary summer exhibitions ceased in 1903 but a major exhibition of the work of York artist William Etty was held in 1911 when his statue by local sculptor George Walker Milburn was erected outside. The period up to the commencement of the Second World War was one of modest growth, the major event being purchase of the Dr W A Evelyn collection of prints, drawings and watercolours of York in 1931. The building was requisitioned for military purposes at the outbreak of the Second World War and closed, suffering bomb damage in an air raid on 29 April 1942.[2][3][4]

The gallery reopened in 1948 with a small temporary exhibition before a major restoration in 1951–52 after which began a major revival of fortune under the direction of Hans Hess. He made important acquisitions with the assistance of the York Art Collection Society founded in 1948 (later Friends of York Art Gallery) and the National Art Collections Fund, and then in 1955 the donation of FD Lycett Green's collection of more than one hundred continental Old Master paintings. As a result of the systematic build up under Hess and his successors, the gallery has a British collection especially of late-19th-century and early-20th-century works with some French works representative of influential styles.[3][4]

In 1963 the gallery was given Eric Milner-White's collection of studio pottery. It was supplemented by other major donations and loans in the 1990s and 2000s, most notably those of WA Ismay and Henry Rothschild (1913–2009).[5]


The site for the 1879 exhibition was an area in the grounds of the medieval St Mary's Abbey known as Bearparks Garden. It is fronted by what became Exhibition Square which was cleared by the demolition of a house and the former Bird in Hand Hotel. Designed by York architect Edward Taylor the art gallery consisted of an entrance hall, central hall, north and south galleries and on the upper floor a Grand Picture Saloon. Its intended grand classical façade decorated with 18 stone figures, a carved tympanum and 14 mosaics was not done for financial reasons and it was decorated instead with two tiled panels representing 'Leonardo expiring in the arms of Francis I', and 'Michaelangelo showing his Moses', together with four ceramic roundels depicting York artists William Etty (painter), John Carr (architect), John Camidge (musician), and John Flaxman (sculptor). To the rear of the building was a large temporary exhibition hall with machinery annex; the exhibition hall remained in use for meetings, concerts and other functions until 1909 and was not demolished until the Second World War. In 1888 the north wing was leased to York Art School which added a further storey in 1905, and after that wing was vacated by the school it housed the city archives from 1977 to 2012. Major works took place in 1951–2 to repair bomb damage and rebuild the west end, and the main gallery was refurbished in 2005. The building is Grade II listed.[2][6][7]

The 2013–15 restoration cost £8 million and was undertaken to increase display space by some 60%, including reincorporation of the north wing, an upper floor extension to the south wing, and reorganisation of the internal space for exhibition and storage. The development enables the area to the rear of the building to be restored to public use as part of the Museum Gardens. The reopened gallery houses a new centre for British Studio Ceramics on the upper floor.[8][9] The gallery reopened on 1 August 2015 at which point admission charges were introduced. Previously admission had been free.[10]



The gallery has more than 1,000 paintings. Western European paintings include 14th-century Italian altarpieces, 17th-century Dutch morality works, and 19th-century works by French artists who were predecessors and contemporaries of the Impressionists. British paintings date from the 16th-century onward, with 17th and 18th-century portraits and painting of Giambattista Pittoni, Victorian morality works and early 20th-century work by the Camden Town Group associated with Walter Sickert being particularly strong. Amongst York born artists the gallery has the largest collection of works by William Etty and good paintings by Albert Moore. Henry Keyworth Raine, the great nephew of William Powell Frith, gifted various works, including a portrait of George Kirby (1845–1937), the First Curator of York Art gallery.[11][4][12]

Studio pottery[edit]

The gallery holds a collection of British studio ceramics with more than 5,000 pieces.[13] They include works by Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, William Staite Murray, Michael Cardew, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Jim Malone and Michael Casson.[5]

Works on paper[edit]

The collection of more than 17,000 drawings, watercolours and prints is particularly strong in views of York with more than 4,000 examples, largely watercolours and drawings, some by local artists such as Henry Cave, John Harper, John Browne and Patrick Hall. Watercolour artists represented include Thomas Rowlandson, John Varley, Thomas Girtin, J. M. W. Turner, and 20th century painters Edward Burra, John Piper and Julian Trevelyan. The gallery holds the William Etty archive.[14][4]

Decorative arts[edit]

There are more than 3,000 decorative objects particularly from Yorkshire potteries from the 16th-century to the early 20th-century, Chinese and Korean pottery from the 18th and 19th-century, and glassware.[15]

Curators and directors[edit]



  1. ^ Trustees Reports and Financial Statements, Year Ended 31 March 2016 (PDF) (Report). York Museums Trust. 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Ingamells, John (January 1977). "The Elevation of the Masses". Preview. 30.
  3. ^ a b c Tillott, P.M., ed. (1961). A History of Yorkshire: The City of York. Dawson for The University of London Institute for Historical Research. pp. 536–7. ISBN 0 7129 1029 8.
  4. ^ a b c d Green, Richard (1991). York City Art Gallery An Illustrated Guide. York City Council.
  5. ^ a b York Art Gallery. "Studio Pottery". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  6. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus; Neave, David (1995). The Buildings of England – Yorkshire: York and the East Riding. Penguin Books. p. 196. ISBN 0140710612.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1257852)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  8. ^ York Art Gallery. "Redevelopment 2015". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  9. ^ "York Art Gallery shortlisted for international award". The Press. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  10. ^ "York Art Gallery Reopens 1 August After £8m Development". York Museums Trust. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  11. ^ York Art Gallery. "Paintings". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Paintings held by York Museums Trust". Art UK. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  13. ^ "York Art Gallery". Art Fund. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  14. ^ York Art Gallery. "Works on Paper". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  15. ^ York Art Gallery. "Decorative Arts". York Museums Trust. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  16. ^ Worthington, Caroline. "Refurbishment of York Art Gallery". Axis: the online directory for contemporary art. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  17. ^ "Curator's corner" (PDF). Friends of York Art Gallery Newsletter. January 2009. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2009. I've been now in post for six months
  18. ^ "Curator's Report" (PDF). Friends of York Art Gallery Newsletter. October 2017. p. 2. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Curator's Report" (PDF). Friends of York Art Gallery Newsletter. July 2018. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Winners of the Visit York Tourism Awards 2016". Visit York. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Victoria and Albert Museum wins Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016". Art Fund. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Awards". Kids in Museums. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  23. ^ "EMYA 2017 Nominees". European Museum Forum. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.

External links[edit]