British paintings, a resource

The Your Paintings website is a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation (a not-for-profit organisation) and over 3,000 participating collections from across the United Kingdom.

Your Paintings is the result of the PCF’s ten-year project to digitize the UK’s entire national collection of oil paintings. 80% of these paintings are typically in store whilst the vast majority had not been photographed before this project. These artworks are now free to view and on the BBC’s website.

A few years ago the BBC made a three minute film about the project that you might enjoy watching. This is the link:

This is the only website anywhere in the world illustrating a nation’s entire painting collection. There are over 210,000 oil paintings in the UK’s national collection. These publicly owned oil paintings are held in institutions ranging from museums large and small to universities, town halls, hospitals and even fire stations. In total there are works by 36,000 artists on the site ranging from the world famous to the completely obscure. Your Paintings provides a major source of organized material for research into art history, British and international history, genealogy and topography.

7 thoughts on “British paintings, a resource

  1. Niketa Hurteau

    I’m absolutely thrilled that there is a website that permits people to view portraits/paintings for free. I’ve always adored art and I really enjoy looking at different works by artists, but I’m only able to do so by going to museums and different art openings. It’s also quite expensive just to view the art on different websites. So, I think it’s great that BBC has given people the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy fantastic masterpieces without paying any fees.

  2. Haley Spencer

    I think having all of these works available online is such a fantastic thing and gives credit to the artists, even if they are unknown. It gives all people the chance to see artwork from different times in history and experience the different styles of work. My only discrepancy is that artwork is meant to be seen in real life and up close and personal. Numbers defining the size of the painting may just as well be numbers. I don’t think people can get the actual size, no matter how massive or miniscule, unless they actually see the painting. With that too, those who look at the art online can’t get an idea of how much work has gone into the painting if they can’t see each individual brush stroke or the variety of colors that go into a piece of work. Although it makes the art available worldwide, I think pieces like the one in this collection are not meant to viewed on the computer screen.

  3. Elisa Tedesco

    Jim Oliver said in the video clip that some of these paintings were not highly professional, but they still meant something to the people at the time. I think that’s what’s important, and that’s what people will remember most. I just imagine what it would be like to do research and cataloguing on all of these paintings, and to find them somewhere hidden later on. It’s truly remarkable. And putting them online for the public will give everyone in so many different countries and cultures an opportunity to feel that in some way, so I think it’s a great thing what BBC is doing.

  4. Lillian Bumstead

    I think it is awesome that these works of art can now be seen by everyone around the world. Unfortunately not many people get to travel outside of their own countries to see different works of art. This is an invaluable resource for those who cannot get to see this art in person. I do agree with a comment above that mentioned the size is hard to imagine, even when given the dimensions. The massiveness of some of these pieces of art cannot be seen on a screen.

  5. Edan Lyons

    With the exponential growth of mass communication in the past two decades its relieving to see that we are sharing something with actual substance with the entire world in lieu of the common dribble that is on the internet. Looking back at the article about the earthquake destroying the church in Assisi its nice to know that even if the original work of art is destroyed through time that thousands of years ago people can still enjoy these thousands of works of art and engage with cultures that would be completely intangible otherwise.

  6. Remy Marcus

    This is quite amazing that this website displays all of the paintings that can be seen in the UK. It is a very convenient way to show all of the different paintings they have in one place that anyone can see. I believe this is something that other countries should do as well , to keep an organized record where anyone can see what paintings are in different countries.

  7. Jessica Rolaf

    I find The Your Paintings website extremely helpful among individuals who would rather view a large amount of artwork in their own home, on their computer and for free, rather than going out and having to find a gallery or museum. This opportunity gives people the advantage of viewing these works of art from different periods of time, as well as different styles used by artists back then. The fact that BBC has provided people with this opportunity, without having to pay a price, to view over 3,000 collections is indeed much appreciated among people of today, such as myself.


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