The contents of The Armitt’s art collection reflects the history and heritage of Ambleside in the wider context of the development of the Lake District as a whole. Once the Lake District had been “discovered”, many artists made visits, excursions, and tours to record their impressions. Within the collection, The Armitt has work by William Green, the Armitt sisters, Joseph Farington, the Collingwoods, Frederic Yates, and from more recent times, the mycological studies of Beatrix Potter.

Art Unlocked is an online talk series by Art UK in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies. This Curation is based on a talk by Faye Morrissey, Manager & Curator, on 14th September 2022. You can find a recording at

6 artworks
  • A soft ground etching of the iconic Bridge House aka “little house” in Ambleside by William Green, published in 1891 and found as part of a set – Thirty Six Etchings from Nature. William Green mentions the building in his 1819 Tourists New Guide saying it is the most notable relic of the Braithwaites' time in Ambleside (the main family of the town).

    William Green (1760-1823) was a talented watercolourist, draughtsman, printmaker, and landscape painter. He was particularly active in the Lake District capturing many views covering places such as Rydal, Derwentwater, Coniston, and Ambleside, amongst others. He is extremely accurate and has an eye for detail making his works very architectural in style.

    Bridge House, Ambleside 1821
    William Green (1760–1823)
    Soft ground etching
    H 34.5 x W 49 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    Bridge House, Ambleside
    Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library

  • This watercolour is one of over 300 original Beatrix Potter artworks The Armitt has in its collection. They are mostly made up of fungi studies, such as this, Leccinum versipelle, formally known as Boletus versipellis, or Orange Birch Bolete.

    Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) produced these watercolours between 1887-1900 and they are taken from different places around Scotland and the Lake District where she would regularly visit with her family on summer holidays. In this instance, it is an undated artwork where the collection site is unknown. Many others in The Armitt’s collection are dated, and detail where she collected the specimen, such as at Holehird in Windermere or Dunkeld in Perthshire.

    Leccinum versipelle 1887–1900
    Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
    Watercolour on paper
    H 30.4 x W 24.1 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    Leccinum versipelle
    Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library

  • Frederic Yates (1854-1919) was well-known for his portraits as well as landscapes. In this instance, the artwork was produced on a commission after the sitter, Charlotte Mason, met him at a friend’s house in London. This portrait of Mason, a pioneer of home schooling and who established her “House of Education” in Ambleside in 1892, went on to further ask Yates to lead an art class at the college. Examples of Jean-Francois Millet’s work, that Yates sketched, now adorn the walls of this building and can still be seen today.

    Amongst other Yates work within The Armitt’s collection are individual portraits of the Armitt sisters and Herbert Bell, an early Trustee and supporter.

    Charlotte Mason (1842–1923) 1902
    Frederic Yates (1854–1919)
    Oil on canvas
    H 52 x W 40 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    Charlotte Mason (1842–1923)
    Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library

  • An oil painting produced in 1946 by Kurt Schwitters of an unknown landscape but expected to be in the Lake District and likely close to Ambleside. Schwitters spent the last few years of his life in the Lakes before passing away in 1948.

    This painting was bought in 1957 direct from Edith Thomas by Mr and Mrs Raymond Jay. Edith Thomas (Wantee) wrote to Mr Jay from her Kensington flat on 5th January 1957: “It is extremely gratifying to me to know that Landscape with Tree has found a home in the Lake District where I have always felt that Schwitters’ sceniques really belong”. In 2004, Eileen Jay gifted the work to The Armitt as part of its growing collection to the artist.

    Landscape with Tree 1946
    Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948)
    Oil on canvas
    H 27.7 x W 32 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    Landscape with Tree
    Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library

  • Sculpted by Josefina de Vasconcellos and placed at The Armitt in 1998, not long after the museum was opened in its new location, this artwork is made from one large piece of Langdale slate and details the names of famous people associated with the museum carved in relief, including Potter, Green, and Schwitters.

    Vasconcellos created a number of works, many of which are in collections around Cumbria such as at Abbot Hall in Kendal and Dove Cottage at Wordsworth Grasmere. The stone is a great feature outside The Armitt and is a draw for visitors. It also features in part of the town’s treasure trail.

    The Armitt Stone 1998
    Josefina de Vasconcellos (1904–2005)
    H 86 x W 100 x D 27 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    The Armitt Stone
    © the copyright holder. Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library

  • Hanging in the upstairs space of The Armitt is this unique artwork. Created by John Ellis in 2012, it is the artist’s interpretation of a Bronze Age sword, made in response to the Ambleside Hoard which The Armitt had on display during the same year. It is made of steel, copper, cast acrylic and bronze leaf. The addition to the work is that it also lights up using high power low energy LEDs.

    The work attempts to draw upon the landscape, the properties of bronze and the alchemy of the Ambleside Hoard’s creation. Uncharnel was conceived with respect and reverence for these early castings and the hands that created them.

    Uncharnel 2012
    John Ellis (active 2012)
    Steel, copper, cast acrylic & bronze leaf
    H 17.5 x W 350 x D 10 cm
    The Armitt Museum and Library
    © the copyright holder. Image credit: The Armitt Museum and Library