Your paintings Uncovering the nation's art collection In association with The Public Catalogue Foundation
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Your Paintings launches with 63,000 paintings

BBC Emily BBC Emily | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

Today we are delighted to be announcing the launch of the public beta of Your Paintings, a groundbreaking new web initiative that aims to put the nation’s complete oil painting collection online for the first time.


So what is Your Paintings all about?

The UK holds in its galleries & civic buildings one of the largest collections of oil paintings in the world, a treasure trove of tens of thousands of individual works, including pieces by some of the world’s leading artists, from world famous names such as Picasso to Rubens to unknown local painters. 

These paintings aren’t just of interest to art lovers, they also make up one of the biggest pre-photographic records of 600 years of British society, life and culture, a hugely important educational and historical resource.

And yet the public’s access to this incredible resource has to date been limited by physical constraints: some 80% of the works are in storage, or otherwise unavailable to view; those that can be seen are scattered around the country, looked after by a diverse range of institutions, from the major national galleries right through to individual council offices and even fire stations, with no way for the public to see the scale of the combined collection. The vast majority have never been published online before.

Now the Public Catalogue Foundation (a charity established to document and photograph this national collection) have teamed up with the BBC and thousands of galleries and collections right across the UK to make the entire national oil painting collection permanently viewable in one place for the first time, for free to the general public.

Our beta launch today showcases the first 63,000 of these paintings, covering works from over 800 collections by over 15,000 individual artists. This is the start of a rolling programme of releases – we’ll be updating the site with thousands of new paintings in the coming months, in line with the PCF’s photography and digitisation programme, with the ambition of having the entire national collection – some 200,000 paintings - online by the end of 2012.

We really hope you enjoy using the site, and we'd love you to contact us with any comments, suggestions or improvements.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am truely excited about seeing the brilliant artist works which are normally hidden from our view. Cant wait

  • Comment number 2.

    I think this is brilliant, there are many true works of art that nobody ever sees, I have a large-ish oil painting that my grandad had painted for my grandma in the late 1960's by a guy from Yorkshire who was at that time in his 90's, almost blind & quite deaf, I think it's remarkable as art because it's actually a real place with a frozen moment of time & when you stand back about 3 yards it looks like a real view from a window & when you stare at it the scene actually looks like it moves! I can't wait to see what else there is still undiscovered in the world. Bravo for this idea!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi there Ron Duncan and Pricklyghost,

    Thank you for your lovely comments!

    Are there any paintings on this website that have particularly caught your eye?

    And Pricklyghost – can you tell us the title of the painting you mentioned?

    Many thanks,
    BBC Emily

  • Comment number 4.

    There is no way I would see so many works of art or find them. I think the BBC has done it again, and i can't wait. Brilliant work.


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