Sheffield Museums' oil collection comprises over 1,950 paintings and spans the city’s visual art, social history and Ruskin collections. The collection is wide-ranging and features a broad selection of European artists and works from the sixteenth century to the present day, as well as works which directly illustrate the city’s history.
Much of the current collection originated with two major city benefactors, John Newton Mappin (1800–1884) and John George Graves (1866–1945). Graves was a passionate collector with wide-ranging tastes who donated nearly 700 paintings to Sheffield, many of which are still on show at Graves Gallery.
The Modern British collection is one of the most important in the country outside of Tate. It includes works by many of Britain’s most significant 20th century artists including Gwen John, Stanley Spencer, Vanessa Bell, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach and Bridget Riley. Paintings by artists such as Paul Cézanne and Alfred Sisley are included in the European twentieth century collection.
Artists represented in the sixteenth to nineteenth century collections include John Singer Sargent, Thomas Gainsborough, J. M. W. Turner, Peter Lely and the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais.