Quaint picture of Whitby

The Museum painting collection consists of mainly 19th and early 20th century work (both oil and water-colours) painted either by local artists or of local scenes.

Dutch Pinck Rescue of the Coupland
“A Dutch Pinck” by G Chambers “Rescue of the Coupland” by A Willis

The Museum has an extensive collection of 19th century ships’ portraits many of which have been recently restored. Created before the advent of photography, the paintings depict Whitby ships off their homeport or a port visited. The pictures would have been painted by artists on commission to the ship’s Captain to hang either in his cabin or in pride of place at home. Often two or three views of the ship are depicted. Some of these brilliant seascapes were painted by professional artists with real knowledge of the sea such as George Chambers (1803-1840), who served in Whitby merchant ships and George Weatherill (1810-1890) and his children Richard and Mary. A particularly fine example is the restored picture by George Chambers “A Dutch Pinck, a frigate and other vessels”. The Scarborough lifeboat is dramatically depicted by Alfred Willis attempting the rescue of the “Coupland” in a gale in 1881.

Pierhead Pierhead
“Prosperity” by J Burton – 1862 Unknown ship leaving Whitby Harbour
Pierhead Pierhead
“Ann” off Whitby Vessels off Whitby – artist unknown

The rich marine heritage of Whitby is further amplified by numerous paintings of the harbour in its 19th century heyday surrounded by the narrow streets and tightly packed pantile-roofed fisherman’s cottages overlooked by the dominating ruins of Whitby Abbey. John Syer’s “Whitby Harbour from the West Side” and W. Gilbert Foster’s painting of “Stockton Walk 1885” are examples of this scene. The ‘Staithes Group’, which played an important part in the development of British Art, is also represented with paintings by artists such as Albert Stevens (1863-1925) and Rowland Henry Hill (1873 – 1952) – of particular interest his picture of the wrecking of the hospital ship Rohilla, where the artist had watched and recorded the desperate efforts to rescue patients and nurses from the stricken vessel on 30th October 1914.

Whitby from Larpool by Richard Weatherill – 1874

Egton Bridge
Egton Bridge by Edwin Cockburn

The surrounding countryside can be seen in paintings such as the early study by F.H. Carter of “Whitby from Larpool”, seen prior to the building of the Whitby to Pickering Railway. The depiction of “Egton Bridge” by Edwin Cockburn (1814-1873) was probably completed between 1845 and 1855 when Cockburn was living and teaching in the area. The picture is of particular historical interest as it depicts the area as seen before the building of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Railway completed in 1865. Cockburn was also a well known portrait painter. Numerous other portraits in the collection give a comprehensive insight to the various local dignitaries who helped to create the rich heritage that is Whitby.

More recent work of note is a collection of sepia and wash drawings by Albert T. Pile (1882 – 1981) which record many of the yards in the old part of Whitby before and during their demolition during the 1950’s. Some of these can be seen on the lower ground floor.

We show only a very small part of our collections on this website. However we are participating with The Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC in the Your Paintings website where you can see many more (110 in total) of Whitby Museum’s Paintings and (122 in total) of the Pannett Gallery’s Paintings.