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Norwich Catehdral Despenser Retable

Norfolk's best paintings

Ian Collins, who curated the blockbuster show Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich in 2013, picks some of the county's best pictures and where to see them in Norfolk public collections.

Unknown Artist: Mr Symonds 1590-1600

Mr Symonds

Mr Symonds, a late Elizabethan Norfolk gent, goes a-hawking in a far from level landscape, suggesting a world of topical and topographical difference between the reigns of the two Elizabeths.

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life

John Crome (1768-1821): Norwich River: Afternoon, 1812-1819

Norwich River: Afternoon

Forget the horrors of depression, oppression and Napoleonic wars. The founding master of the Norwich School knows the timeless joy of messing around in boats.

 Norwich Castle Museum

John Craske (1881-1943): The Fishing Smack Gannet

Fishing Smack Gannet

Former Sheringham fisherman John Craske painted and embroidered his memories of marine adventures through decades of ill-health – fame now finally awaiting him in pending books and exhibitions.

Sheringham Museum

Unknown Artist: Scragg's Cow, 1831

Scragg's Cow

I love these naïve pictures commissioned by our farming forebears with their big brags and fat lies. Could this buxom beast ever have lived, let alone walked?

Museum of Norfolk Life, Gressenhall

Henry Baines (1823-1894): Quayside with St Margaret's, 1855-1865

Quayside wth St Margaret's

While brother Thomas painted African adventures, Henry Baines found wild romance on his native quayside in a town long sending fishers, traders and explorers all over the world.

King's Lynn Museum

William Beechey (1753-1839): Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805)

Horatio, Viscount Nelson

Here is the Norfolk-born hero in all his glory – a monumental 1801 tribute after our seasick son's victory at the Battle of the Nile and as depicted by the artist of his choice.

Norwich Civic Portrait Collection, Blackfriars Hall

Despenser Retable

Dispenser Retable

Celebrating the crushing of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt and miraculously hidden from Puritan vandals, this altarpiece is Norfolk's greatest surviving painted treasure from troubling times.

 Norwich Cathedral

Campbell Mellon (1876-1955): The Holiday Season

The Holiday Season

Norfolk's L.S. Lowry savoured the heyday of seaside summer holidays from a Gorleston eyrie, painting the August crowds from Hopton to Great Yarmouth.

Sheringham Museum

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920): Head of a Woman (Anna Zborowska), 1918-1919

Head of a Woman (Anna Zborowska)

Modigliani is a tragic icon of 20th century modernism, and this haunting tribute to his dealer's wife now fits with fabulous treasures across cultures and centuries given to us by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury.

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich