The Courtauld Gallery is now a part of Your Paintings, a hugely ambitious ten-year project to put online the United Kingdoms entire collection of oil paintings, together with acrylic and tempera, in public collections. This makes the UK the first country in the world to give such access to its national collection of paintings. In total, 3,217 venues across the United Kingdom have participated in the project and 212,000 paintings are now on the Your Paintings website at bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings.
The Courtaulds 552 paintings join those from such organisations the National Trust, Tate and National Gallery as well as the National Galleries of Scotland, Manchester City Galleries, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Dulwich Picture Gallery; the Wallace Collection; and many more. The most recent additions also include all the Oxford Colleges and most of the Cambridge Colleges institutions that are not in public ownership but have joined the Your Paintings website for the benefit of wider public awareness and research.
Your Paintings is a partnership project between the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC. The PCF started making a photographic record of the nations oil paintings in 2003 whilst the Your Paintings website, built by the BBC, was launched with 63,000 paintings in June 2011. The project covers paintings not only held by museums but also works in universities, town councils, hospitals and even paintings held in police stations, zoos, fire stations and a lighthouse. Typically 80% of these paintings are not on view whilst the vast majority has never been photographed before. All oil paintings owned by the nation are shown irrespective of quality, taste and condition.
This project allows everyone to see the full extent of the national collection completely for free together with BBC TV documentary archive and biographical information for selected artists. It is a project that will benefit art enthusiasts, students, curators, researchers, tourists and anyone unable to make the journey to the collections.
Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art, said: As a one of the worlds leading university art museums, The Courtauld Gallery embraces this opportunity to make its collections to a wide international audiences. We recognise how important access is not only to the paintings that are on view to the public but also those that are less accessible. Through Your Paintings and new technology, everybody can now enjoy the nations collection and actively engage in art history.
To help the BBC and PCF identify and catalogue what can be seen in each painting, the public is being invited to tag the nations paintings. Tagging is fun, easy and you dont need to be an art expert to do it. The results will allow future users of the Your Paintings website to find paintings of subjects that interest them. The process for tagging paintings was developed by the PCF with the help of crowd-sourcing technology pioneered by the Astrophysics Department at the University of Oxford to classify galaxies, and art historical input from the University of Glasgow. Your Paintings Tagger can be reached through the Your Paintings website or directly at http://tagger.thepcf.org.uk/