Uncovering the Nation's Art

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The Public Catalogue Foundation have teamed up with the BBC to launch a new digital archive containing over 200,000 of the nation’s publically owned oilpaintings.

The Your Paintings project was begun in 2003 and only a third of the paintings had been digitised when the BBC came on board with a dedicated website in 2011 and the mission was successfully accomplished 18 months later, concluding with the launch of the site last month.

211,861 oil paintings – many of which have never been photographed before – are included in the archive, and includes work that is hung in a wide variety of public and government offices, including hospitals, zoos and even a lighthouse! 37,000 different artists are featured, ranging from masters like Gainsborough and Turner to lesser-known (but no less famous) painters such as Noel Coward and Derek Jarman.

The paintings are free to access and include additional material from the BBC documentary archive as well as biographies compiled by art experts from Oxford University Press.

Not that you have to go very far for paintings in the Library – we have a vast collection of books on painters and paintings among our Art collection on Level 2, as well as access to databases featuring digital reproductions of paintings from across the world such as the Web Gallery of Art.

You can browse among the collection on the Your Paintings site – and participate by helping tag the pictures featured – by following this link:


And you can find out more about the PCF here: