News item from 2012

Hunt In the Forest

Ashmolean Joins 'Your Paintings' National Online Catalogue

The Ashmolean Museum is pleased to be one of the latest collections to join the ‘Your Paintings’ website. ‘Your Paintings’, run by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) in partnership with the BBC, is the first project of its kind to create a complet catalogue of every oil painting in the national collection. Works in the Ashmolean by Batoni, Canaletto, van Dyck, van Gogh, Monet, Rubens, Titian and Uccello are among the 1,500 paintings that have been added to the site.

Among the other collections recently added to the site are the Royal Academy of Arts; the National Portrait Gallery; Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales; the Ministry of Defence Art Collection; the collection of contemporary paintings from the Royal College of Art; and the collections from Glasgow, Cumbria, Lancashire, Isle of Man, Plymouth and Torbay. Over 2500 paintings drawn from 46 National Trust properties have also been uploaded.

To help the BBC and PCF identify and catalogue what can be seen in each painting, the public is being invited to ‘tag’ the nation’s paintings. Tagging is fun, easy and you don’t 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 ‘Your Paintings’ Tagger is at

Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new website which will increase public access to our collection of European art. A team at the Ashmolean has collaborated with the PCF in editing entries for over 1500 oil paintings which will go online. From highlights such as Paolo Uccello’s Hunt in the Forest and paintings from the Pissarro Family Archive, Your Paintings will also include works that are not currently on display. This is a remarkable resource that will enable online visitors to search and cross-reference the Ashmolean’s paintings with the rest of the UK’s public collections.”

‘Your Paintings’ is a partnership project between the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) to put the United Kingdom’s entire collection of oil paintings in public collections online at This website is emerging as a unique learning resource, showing not only photographs and information about each painting but also selected BBC TV archive footage and links to further information. The website was launched at the National Gallery in the summer of 2011. Currently, the site shows around 145,000 paintings from over 1,700 collections.

In total, the national oil painting collection amounts to some 200,000 works, held in approaching 3,000 galleries, museums, universities, hospitals and other public institutions from across the UK, making it one of the largest and most diverse collections of paintings in the world. The plan is for all these paintings to be online by the end of 2012.

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, the public are being invited to go online and help classify or ‘tag’ the paintings catalogued by the PCF so that in due course the paintings can be searchable by subject matter.

The Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) is a registered charity. It was launched in 2003 to create a photographic record of all the oil paintings in public ownership in the United Kingdom. In addition to publishing its work online, the PCF is also publishing a series of printed catalogues. The painstaking research to locate the paintings up and down the country and collate the data has been carried out by 50 researchers. Over 30 fine art photographers have been employed to take photographs of these paintings over the life of the project. London-based staff focus on fundraising, processing and editing the data that comes in from the field, and clearing copyright.

The PCF is funded principally by grants and donations. Under 15 per cent of its funding comes from the public sector. Whilst many hundreds of individuals and institutions have supported its work, the PCF’s principal funders for the project throughout the UK are Arts Council England, The Binks Trust, Christie’s, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Hiscox, the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, the Monument Trust, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation.

The PCF was founded by Dr Fred Hohler. Its Trustees are Charles Gregson (Chairman of the PCF), Margaret Greeves (Chair of Collections Trust), Robert Hiscox (Chairman of Hiscox), Alex Morrison (Founder and Managing Managing Director of Cogapp), Richard Roundell (Vice–Chairman of Christie’s UK), Marc Sands (Director of Audiences and Media at Tate), Dr Charles Saumarez Smith (Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy), Graham Southern (Founding Director of Blain Southern) and the artist Alison Watt. The Director is Andrew Ellis.

BBC Online is BBC’s portfolio of websites, available at It comprises ten Products – News, Sport, Weather, CBBC, CBeebies, Knowledge & Learning, Homepage, Search, TV & iPlayer and Radio & Music. In April 2011, it had 31.7 million unique browsers and was the fourth most popular website in the UK. It is the only UK-owned website in the UK top ten. Your Paintings is part of Knowledge & Learning.

The BBC creates partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts.


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