University's paintings go online
MORE than 200 paintings in the care of the University of Bristol are part of an ambitious project to put online the nation's entire collection of oil paintings in public ownership.
The Your Paintings project by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) means the UK is the first country to give such access to its national collection of paintings. The university is one of 3,217 venues across the UK which have participated in the project, which features a total of 211,861 paintings now on the Your Paintings website.
One hundred and nineteen paintings in the University of Bristol's Theatre Collection feature on the website. The paintings, some of which were purchased with assistance from the Art Fund, form an integral part of the Theatre Collection's wider holdings and include images of eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century actors such as Sarah Siddons, Ellen Terry and John Gielgud as well as scenes and theatre interiors.
Many actors are portrayed in character including David Garrick as Don Juan, Herbert Beerbohm Tree as Cardinal Wolsey in Henry Vlll and Dorothy Tutin as Joan of Arc.
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Some of the more interesting paintings from the Theatre Collection now available online include the haunting Charles Kean as King Lear by William Etty (the collection's first formal acquisition of an oil painting in 1957), the paintings by William Hamilton R.A. of Sarah Siddons in The Tragedy of Isabella and of her brother John Philip Kemble in Richard III.
Jo Elsworth, director of the Theatre Collection, said: "In theatre, where everything is so ephemeral and so little remains to represent the performance event itself, the artwork takes on an additional significance.
"It is wonderful to see these oil paintings made so widely available."
A further 95 paintings held by the university also feature on the website. They include portraits of former university Chancellors, including two of Sir Winston Churchill as well as a 1948 oil painting by him of Rocks near Cannes.
Views of the university and of Bristol such as a 1835 painting of Races on Clifton Down by James Pollard are also among the images catalogued online.
The PCF started making a photographic record of the UK's oil paintings in 2003 and the Your Paintings website was launched with 63,000 paintings in June 2011.
Andrew Ellis, director of the Public Catalogue Foundation, said: "No country has ever embarked on such a monumental project to showcase its entire oil painting collection online.
"Working with collections all over the land, this project reveals to the world the UK's extraordinary holding of oil paintings. Anyone with internet access, anywhere in the world, can now see them all, completely for free."
For more information about the project visit www.thepcf.org.uk