The strength of the Fine Art collection lies in early 20th-century British art. This includes works by the Scottish Colourists, Samuel Peploe, Franics Cadell and George Hunter. Walter Sickert, Spencer Gore and Harold Gilman of the Camden Town School, Duncan Grant of the Bloomsbury Group, a small sample of British Surrealists from Conroy Maddox to Eileen Agar and work by the war artists; in particular Paul Nash. One of the most popular oil paintings in the collection and with which the museum is most heavily identified is The Family by Bernard Fleetwood Walker. The collection also contains works by local artists as diverse as James Holland and Arthur Berry, as well as pottery designers turned artists such as Grete Marks and Gordon Forsyth. The local landscape is captured in many of the works by artists both living in the area and those who have passed through, depicting scenes from the 18th century to the present day.
The museum’s Fine Art collection has largely grown through donations and some works have been purchased by the gallery itself or with assistance from the Arts Council, The Friends of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Society. Through The Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme the museum has been able to acquire works that challenge traditional divisions between art and craft, collecting works by Grayson Perry, Gavin Turk and Jacqui Poncelet.
In addition to the oil paintings, the museum holds a vast collection of prints. These provide a greater historical and international context for the works in oil. The print collection covers European and Japanese printmakers from the 16th century to the present day; a notable example is the complete series of Francisco de Goya’s Los Proverbios. Other examples are by Manet, Toulouse Lautrec and Degas, 19th-century Japanese wood block prints and 20th-century British prints by Henry Moore, Laura Knight, Eric Gill and James Whistler.