Art as Inspiration

Delve into the treasures of the Nottingham Castle collections. The Long Gallery will play host to hundreds of carefully selected objects, thoughtfully arranged for maximum impact, to inspire and encourage reflection, to enjoy and engage with in a myriad of ways. This gallery reveals what has inspired artists and makers for centuries, be it antiquity, beauty, or the everyday. What inspires you?

The gallery mixes fine and decorative arts: paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, textiles, and jewellery. It is arranged in six themes:


Herm of Fundillia Rufa

This first century sculpture was dedicated to Fundillia by her slave Doctus. Roman portrait busts, or Herms are usually quite plain. However, recently traces of colour have been detected. This example with its delicate treatment of the garment shows the affection her former slave turned actor must have had for her.

Classical World

Portland Vase

Since the 1400s, artists and makers in the West, such as Josiah Wedgwood, have been inspired by the art of ancient Greece and Rome. The Portland Vase is one of the most famous products to have been made at the Wedgwood’s pottery in the late 18th century. It was named after the Duchess of Portland, who obtained a c.25 BC Roman glass cameo vase in a much-publicised sale. In 1786 the Duke, who then owned it, lent the vase to Josiah Wedgwood to make an exact copy of it in his famous black ‘Jasper’ unglazed stoneware.


Satellitium, Edward Wadsworth, 1942

Although this landscape is recognisable as a quayside, full of crisply defined details, the strange objects in the foreground seem almost to have come life. This is a feature of Surrealism, an early 20th century movement in which artists used the imagination and dreams to reveal the workings of the unconscious mind.  Wadsworth liked the combination of mechanical, man-made objects with natural forms like shells and seaweed.

Nature Close Up

After the Rain, Peter Dreiser, 1978

Inspired by a dripping washing line on a rainy day, Dreiser went on to create this beautiful engraved glass vase.

Form and Colour

Violas in a window, Winifred Nicholson

In this painting of flowers on a window sill, with a lake and mountains beyond, the artist has used a range of vibrant blues and greys to unify foreground and background, leading the eye from plant pot to mountain and back again. The smooth, flat oval of the lake and the curve of the pot enhance this sensation.

Nicholson’s suggestion that ‘…you can paint ‘Bluer Than The Sky’. Blueness is your aim, the sky falls below…’ seems particularly apt for this painting.

Free Time

Love’s Oracle, Albert Ritzberger, c.1900

Painted in 1900, Love’s Oracle is an intimate portrayal of young Victorian women at leisure. One of them is reading playing-cards to predict the romantic future of another with artificial lamplight casting a warm glow over the scene.

Other Galleries

Early Nottingham Craft

Revealing Nottingham’s handmade history

Find out more


A spectacular Medieval Castle once stood on this very spot and many of its features still stand.

Find out more

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