Fine & Decorative Art
The art collections on display at Maidstone Museum are both outstanding and diverse, with more than 550 oil paintings constituting Kent’s biggest publicly owned collection. Its strengths are pre-1800 minor Dutch and Italian Old Masters, a number of rare paintings by Maidstone-born essayist William Hazlitt, and miniatures by his brother, John Hazlitt. Works in oil by the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood are also represented, including Arthur Hughes, Albert Goodwin, and Ford Maddox Brown.
The watercolour and drawings collection numbers over 2,500 items and includes 40 Old Master drawings, as well as watercolours by Maidstone-born artists Albert Goodwin, William Alexander, David Cox, and a number of other 18th and 19th-century artists. The collection includes over 1,400 topographical views, while the print collection numbers 3,500 pieces and includes 400 by Victorian printing pioneer George Baxter (a near definitive collection), with a further 100 prints by the noted Maidstone-born engraver William Woollett. Over 1,400 Kentish views are also represented.
The smaller sculpture collection includes bronzes by Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore.
Fine and applied arts
Our fine and applied arts collection is wide in scope, also including examples of furniture, needlework, ceramics, glass, clocks and watches, jewellery, and metalware from Europe and the Orient, enamel and lacquer from Japan, stained glass, toys and games, and musical instruments.
The rare collection of late 17th to mid-19th-century watches comes mostly from Kentish makers, together with a small collection of clocks, nearly all of which originate in Maidstone. The furniture collection, meanwhile, consists of mostly English furniture (chairs, tables, cupboards, and chests) from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There are also a number of pieces that have associations with well-known historical figures such as Henry VIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Jonathan Swift.
Ceramics, glass, and more
The ceramics and glass collections comprise approximately 1,700 specimens including English porcelain and earthenware collections mainly dating up to the mid-19th century. The museum also possesses one of the largest collections of local pottery in Kent, particularly Wrotham ware, while the Chinese collection is very large also. There is even an important collection of 250 glass items (including Lalique) and a small group of stained glass.
Toys and games
The toys and games collection includes dolls, board games, and other items from 18th century onwards, along with the Oyler collection of sports and games, an outstanding collection that is unique in its field. The museum also holds a small collection of 50 musical instruments, including a portable clavichord reputedly owned and used by Handel.