666 artworks by 165 artists

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North Somerset Council’s museum collection contains over 100 oil paintings. These are either displayed at the Weston-super-Mare Museum or stored at the Somerset Heritage Centre near Taunton where they are accessible to the public by appointment. The paintings fall into three main categories. Firstly, there are paintings showing scenes and landscapes around North Somerset. Those created before the invention of photography are an invaluable record for historians, whilst more recent works complement the photographic record. Secondly, the collection includes works by artists from the local area. Finally, there are images of local people. This includes a large group of portraits of the Smyth Pigott family, formerly Lords of the Manor. The bulk of the collection dates to the nineteenth century or later, though the earliest Smyth Pigott portraits date back to the seventeenth century. Notable among these are portraits of Colonel Thomas Pigott and the Honourable Florence Pigott from the 1640s by John Hayls (1600–1679) and portraits of John Pigott and Wadham Pigott by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) painted around 1780. The best known of the local artists in the collection is Joseph Sheppard (1834–1928). He lived near Weston-super-Mare and painted local views and people. His portrait of Miss Bisdee is a fine example of English naïve art.