The Lytham St Annes Artwork Collection has largely been acquired through public donations, the catalyst of which was Richard Ansdell’s Herd Lassie (1876), donated in 1925 by Booths’ grocer John Booth.
It was a fitting bequest as Liverpool-born artist Richard Ansdell had an affinity with the area, building a holiday home for himself in the small area between Lytham and St Annes - this area was later renamed Ansdell to honour the artist. The collection currently consists of over twenty-five Richard Ansdell pieces including Lytham Sandhills (1866), donated by Ansdell’s grandchildren in 1926, and Partridge Shooting (1879), donated by Alderman James Dawson in 1931.
Over the years the collection grew with further donations from Alderman Dawson, with over fifty endowments in total by the late 1950s. His most iconic donation was The Vision of the Catherine of Aragon (1781), by Swiss neoclassical artist Henri Fuseli - it is currently one of the most celebrated items in the collection and was out on loan to the Tate in 2006.
In addition to fine oil paintings, the collection also includes a number of different types of artwork including drawings, sketches, engravings, textiles and ivories.
For years the Lytham St Annes Art Collection was largely undocumented, with little knowledge about the donors or the pieces that made up the collection. In 2013 the Fylde Arts Society and the Friends of the Lytham St Annes Art Collection, with funding from a national initiative, undertook the laborious task of documenting, cataloguing and researching the collection. The project, entitled Tagging the Treasures, provided a comprehensive guide to the collection, ensuring it is accessible, searchable and giving the recognition the collection warrants.
The collection now surpasses two hundred pieces of quality art, and whilst it has no permanent gallery home, key pieces from the collection are displayed in Lytham Heritage Centre and the Fylde Gallery at various times throughout the year.