Art website offers public chance to turn true detectives

art detective

art detective - Credit: Archant

This portrait of an unknown Royal Free Hospital doctor is among thousands of paintings held in public collections that could be identified with help from an “art detective”.

Of almost 30,000 paintings listed on the Public Catalogue Foundation’s website, more than half have uncertain attributions and some 8,000 portraits are lacking the identity of the sitters.

Art Detective is an online initiative to connect public collections, searching for information about oil paintings, with art specialists and members of the public who may be able to fill in the blanks of the people, places and events depicted.


In the case of the 1920 oil painting of a mystery rheumatologist held in the Royal Free’s collection, the artist is also unknown.

Another painting, held in the collection of Compton Verney House in Warwickshire, depicts a shipwreck on February 12, 1870, but does not identify where it happened.

Organisers hope that the website, which will generate online discussions monitored by specialists, will turn up discoveries of artworks within the 3,000 or so collections taking part in the PCF, many of which do not have their own experienced fine art curators.

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They also want to actively engage the public in the care and curatorship of public art collections by taking part in art history research first hand.

For more see

Modern Masters III embraces nine decades of painting, drawing and sculpture by 18 leading 20th century British artists including a view of Mornington Crescent painted in 1997 by Frank Auerbach.

Mornington Crescent Looking South depicts the cityscape near Auerbach’s home and studio that he has painted with endless variety for 60 years. The 83-year-old moved to Camden Town in 1954 after first studying art at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute.

Work dating from pre-First World War to the 1990s by Alfred Wallis, Winifred and Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney and Bridget Riley are also on display at Richard Green Gallery in New Bond Street, from June 4 to July 11, as part of Master Paintings Week, London.

For more see