Abbot Hall Collections

Abbot Hall is one of Britain’s preeminent small art galleries, set in a Grade I listed Georgian building on the banks of the River Kent in Kendal. The gallery holds an outstanding collection of 18-21 century art and hosts exhibitions throughout the year.

Colletions include:

Modern and Contemporary Art – the modern collection concentrates more on painting than sculpture, although there are three-dimensional pieces, including a work by Barbara Hepworth, Jena Arp and Elisabeth Frink.

Abbot Hall also has a significant group of Lake District works by the German refugee artist Kurt Schwitters, and still life paintings by Winifred Nicholson and the Scottish Colourist, S J Peploe.

Modern landscape paintings and works on paper by Gillies, Piper, Sutherland, Hitchens and Lowry, amongst others, reflect and build on the landscape theme of the 18th and 19th century watercolour collections. The gallery also has a strong collection of 20th century figure paintings and portraits with significant works by Stanley Spencer, Victor Pasmore and David Bomberg.

In recent years Abbot Hall has been active in adding contemporary British works to its collection, including Frank Auerbach, Paula Rego, Tony Bevan, and Celia Paul. There is also a growing collection of artist’s prints, including etchings by David Hockney, Paula Rego and Lucian Freud, lithographs by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henry Moore and aquatints by Sean Scully.

John Ruskin  – the Victorian art critic and social commentator, John Ruskin, lived in the Lake District at the end of his life, and Abbot Hall has one of the most comprehensive collections of his drawings and watercolours in the country. Only one drawing and one watercolour relate to the Lake District, with the remainder covering a wide range of subjects, including natural history, mountains and topography in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France as well as Britain.

18th and 19th Century Watercolours – the mid-18th century saw the emergence of the Lake District as a destination for tourists and artists on the Picturesque tour, and Abbot Hall has a significant collection of watercolours, mainly from the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries. Many of the greatest watercolourists of the period are represented, including J R Cozens, David Cox, Peter De Wint, John Sell Cotman, John Varley and Edward Lear. The landscape tradition reached its apogee in the 19th century with the work of JMW Turner, represented at Abbot Hall by his magnificent early watercolour The Passage of Mount St. Gothard and an 1821 watercolour, Windermere.

George Romney – Abbot Hall Art Gallery has one of the finest collections of George Romney’s painting in Britain. Please see a separate post providing further details of the collection by clicking here.

Art UK – with many more works behind the scenes, Abbot Hall has  launched its own A-Z of artists. Each week, it introduces new artists and shares the stories behind heir work.Take a look at its Artist A to Z.

There are plans to increase the gallery space so visitors get the chance to see more artists in the collection and more new artists through a varied exhibition programme.

Further information
  • Opening times:  10am-4pm, Wednesday – Saturday (from 24 May 2023); Opening weekend: 10am-4pm Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May 2023; Annual closure dates: 25 – 26 December 2024. The gallery also closes for two weeks collection care and maintenance at the start of January every year
  • Admission: You can book your gallery tickets online or buy on the day: £9 Adult; £7 Student; £4.50 Child (5-15yrs); £0 Child (0-4yrs); Free for Lakeland Arts Members; With a National Art Pass you get 50% off day admission
  • Location: Abbot Hall, Kirkland, Kendal LA9 5AL. Parking: Pay and display parking in the Abbot Hall car park – there are parking spaces for Blue Badge holders
  • For more information please call 015394 722464. email:
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