As you browse the database, you will see thousands of works of art. Not all of them are strictly ‘British.’ Here’s the criteria I used. As with anything, there is an overlap. When I set out to build the database, it became clear I needed flexibility to build it quickly and to get this thing live. Many of the institutions that have these works in their collections have perfectly fine websites or are on Google Arts and Culture, but we wanted them to be all in one place.
  1. Is the artist British? If the artist was British, then we try to include them. We have several main categories for the ‘masters.’
  2. Is the subject British? If the subject of the painting is British, but the artist is not, they would also be included (i.e. Cannaleto or Van Dycke)
  3. Is the art institution that has the art located in Britain? This is the biggest one here - we have found the archives of several major UK art institutions and added them. However, while the artworks may live in a British museum, a lot of them aren’t British as defined by the criteria above - but we’ve included them anyway. For example, we’ve uploaded a large majority of the collection of the National Gallery in London but there are many paintings in the collection that aren’t ‘British.’ This makes it feel like you can virtually browse the collections as these fine institutions.
  4. Is the artist dead? I’m going to say the gauche thing and admit I’m not a huge fan of modern art, so you won’t find much of it in this database. Not just because I don’t like it, but because most ‘new’ stuff is under jealously guarded copyright. I’ve made an exception for the works of Sir Winston Churchill, all painted in the 20th century but their historical importance outweighs this.
And now a few caveats about the collection - please read: