Paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, JMW Turner and Peter Paul Rubens have been donated to the nation in lieu of tax after the deaths of their owners.
Fifty-one items of "major cultural significance" worth a total of £40m were offered in place of £25m of inheritance tax between 2010 and 2012.
They include two works by Turner and two by Reynolds.
The archive of author JG Ballard and a collection of awards won by playwright Harold Pinter have also been donated.
Pinter's Nobel Prize for Literature medal is among the awards given in lieu of £42,000 inheritance tax after his death in 2008.
They have been allocated to the British Library, as have manuscripts and notebooks belonging to Crash author Ballard, who died in 2009.
Those who control the estates of authors, artists and collectors have been able to use their cultural and historical artefacts to pay inheritance tax since 1910.
The Arts Council England has published a list of the items donated over the past two years.
The works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, arguably the dominant English artist of the 18th Century, are both oil portraits of aristocratic families. One has been allocated to the Tate and the other to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
Of Turner's landscapes, one depicts Lowther Castle in Cumbria, painted in 1810, and the other shows a view of Rome, painted a decade later.
The donated artworks also include The Triumph of Venus by Rubens, an oil sketch made in the 1620s, which has been used to pay £4.4m of tax. It has been placed in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
The Samian Sibyl by Italian 17th Century master Guernico has been allocated to the National Gallery, while four sculptures and three paper works by Barbara Hepworth have also been donated.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "The acceptance in lieu scheme has been responsible for some incredible treasures entering museums and galleries around the nation where they can be enjoyed by all.
"It's not just the large national museums that benefit - some of our smallest galleries have been allocated stunning works."