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Cottonian Collection

This outstanding art collection, with Designated status, was assembled by Charles Rogers FRS FSA (1711 to 1784) and presents a fascinating glimpse into the achievements of an 18th century English connoisseur.

A portrait of a well dressed man in the late 1700sIt contains small groups of ceramics, bronzes and paintings, several hundred Old Master and English drawings and watercolours, and a substantial body of several thousand fine and rare prints. Though it is within the art collection, it is retained as a separate entity.

Together with a sizeable library of some two thousand tomes, this collection is of international importance. Initiated in the late 1740s by Charles Rogers, who amassed a substantial quantity of prints and drawings, it was passed through three successive generations of the Cotton family.

It was gifted ‘… for the purposes of amusement and instruction by the inhabitants of the Towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport and their vicinity… ‘ in 1852 by William Cotton MA FSA (1794 to 1863). It finally opened as a public Collection in 1853 and was later transferred to Plymouth Corporation in 1915/1916 by an Act of Parliament.

Black circular logo with Designated Outstanding Collection around the edge and a capital DDesignated status

The Cottonian Collection was designated in 1998, as a recognised collection of national importance. This scheme is administered by Arts Council England.