The collection of oil paintings consists principally of works by local amateur artists working during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  These artists include Job Hardy (1866-1954) and Frederick John Cleall (1840-1924), who were by profession a builder and painter/decorator respectively.  Their works usually featured views in and around Swanage, including street scenes and the stone quarries.

Two professionally trained artists whose work is represented in the collection are Alfred Palmer (1877-1951) and James Walter Gibbs (1853-1906) .  Palmer was educated at Dulwich College and studied at the Royal Academy Schools and in Paris.  After many years of travel, including Spain, Africa and the Holy Land, he came to Purbeck in 1940.  He lived at Church Hill, Swanage, which is shown in the background of a self-portrait held by the museum, together with one of his series of works showing local quarrymen.

James Gibbs was born in Bath and trained as an artist at South Kensington.  He returned to Bath and attained some sucess as a portraitist.  Gibbs left Bath for Dorchester, before coming to Swanage in the 1880's.  He was an alcholic, and would paint the same local scenes many times in order to sell the work to obtain money to feed his addiction.  In the 1891 census he was recorded as living 'in a hayloft' in the High Street.

The Museum also displays large oil paintings of Swanage's two founding fathers, John Mowlem (1788-1868) and George Burt (1816-1894).  The portait of Burt is by the artist John Edgar Williams (fl. 1846-1883), he also painted a portrait of GB's wife, Elizabeth (1811-1886), which is displayed alongside her husband.

Elizabeth and George Burt
by John Edgar Williams

Alfred Palmer

The Brewery - Job Hardy

High Street - FJ Cleall

High Street - James Gibbs

Link to collection 2

An introduction to the Paintings in the Museum Collection
by David Haysom, Hon. Curator

John Mowlem

Link to collection 3