It features nearly 212,000 oil paintings, created by 37,000 artists, including 391 works by Joshua Reynolds, 348 by Turner, 281 by Gainsborough, 273 by Walter Sickert, 189 by Stanley Spencer and 114 by Van Dyck. And it is available to view online – for free.
The last upload of 40,000 paintings in December signalled the
completion of the Public Catalogue
Foundation's ambitious project to take photographs of all the
oil paintings held in public ownership in the UK and show them via
the BBC's Your Paintings website.
The PCF began its mammoth task in 2003 and Your Paintings was
launched by the BBC in June 2011, covering not only museums and
galleries but also universities, councils, hospitals and even fire
stations, zoos and a lighthouse. Typically, 80% of these paintings
are not usually on view to the public and the vast majority have
never been photographed in this way.
It is a charity and supporters include
Christie's along with dealers Blain
Southern, Hauser & Wirth,
Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox,
Liss Fine Art, Lisson Gallery,
Philip Mould & Company, Richard Green
Gallery and Simon C. Dickinson.
The PCF are eager to get more art experts and dealers involved,
not least because there are still about 30,000 paintings that do
not have firm artist attributions and many portrait sitters have
not been identified.
The next step, depending on funding, could be to cover sculpture
in public collections - but it seems there are too many
watercolours to be covered.