The art collection at Ipswich has the most significant collection of artwork by Suffolk artists. It includes over one thousand oil paintings, over seven thousand watercolours and drawings, seven thousand prints and sixty sculptures – representing a wide range of artists dating from the fifteenth century to the present day.
Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, two of Suffolk’s most significant artists, can be seen in the context of English and Dutch portrait and landscape traditions.
The Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service contains the largest collection of work by John Constable outside London, which can be seen alongside associated artists. George Frost, Thomas Churchyard, Edward Smythe, Thomas Smythe, Robert Burrows, Fred Brett Russel, John Moore, Henry Todd and John Duval are all well represented.
Past and present members of the Ipswich Fine Art Club (Ipswich Art Society) are also represented, such as Anna Airy, Arnesby Brown and Leonard Squirrell.
The Ipswich Art School (now Ipswich Art Gallery) hosted many influential artists such as Maggi Hambling, whose paintings are also part of the collection.
Major acquisitions such as 'Holywells Park, Ipswich' by Thomas Gainsborough, and 'The Ladies of the Mason Family' and 'A Lime Kiln' by John Constable, have been achieved with assistance from the Friends of the Ipswich Museums, the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Works continue to be donated and acquired today.