The Iron BridgeOil on canvas by William Wiliams, 1780(purchased with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund andthe MGC/V&A Grant in Aid Fund).Quaker Ironmaster Abraham Darby III commissioned this painting shortlybefore the bridge was opened to traffic. His Coalbrookdale Company hadcast the parts for which he had personally paid half the cost out of hisown pocket (equivalent to three quarters of a million pounds today), therest having been covered by an issue of shares. The artist was paid tenguineas and his painting formed the basis for widely circulatedengravings. The first bridge in the world to use cast-iron structurally,it rapidly became the focus of travellers from all over the world, andan icon of what was to be called the "Industrial Revolution". TheBridge still straddles the River Severn in Shropshire in the heart ofthe beautiful Ironbridge Gorge, one of Britain's World Heritage Sitesand home to the nine museums of the independent charitable trust of theIronbridge Gorge Museums.