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How to use the database
How to use the database
1933-45 Research
Role of the GAC

Welcome to the Government Art Collection on-line database.

The Government Art Collection includes works in a range of media - paintings, sculptures, drawings and watercolours, prints, photographs and textiles. The majority are by British artists and they cover a wide span, both historically and in terms of subject matter, ranging from 16th-century portraits to contemporary landscape photographs. Works have been acquired by purchase, commission, gift and bequest.

About the on-line database

The on-line database currently contains information on around 10,000 works - almost all the paintings, drawings, sculpture and textiles in the Collection, as well as a substantial number of prints and photographs. We are adding to these all the time.

The number of good quality images on the website is continually increasing. Whenever works of art displayed overseas return to London, we take the opportunity to have them photographed and reassess their documentation. As research unearths new attributions and other art historical information, our records are updated and the information reflected on the website.

How to use the database

You can access works in the Collection in the following ways:

  • browse an alphabetical list of artists
  • search for specific artists
  • search for works of art

Search for artists

  • from the full search page you can search by artist name and/or dates of artist to obtain a list of matching artists, then
  • select a specific artist to obtain a list of works associated with that artist

Search for works of art

  • from the full search page you can search on any combination of title, artist, date of work, or medium to obtain a list of matching works of art, or
  • enter the GAC number of a specific work if you know it

Lists of works of art can be viewed in summary as text only or as text with thumbnail images. The title of work, number of work and thumbnail image in these lists act as links to more detailed information and a larger image.

When searching for a record by artist name, title or medium, you can enter any word or part of a word in upper or lower case.

Works with more than one artist or title

Some works of art

  • have been created by more than one artist
  • have been attributed to more than one artist
  • have more than one title

In these cases, searching for artists or titles will bring up messages denoting that there are other artists or titles associated with the work. Click on these messages to link to the full details where all the artists and titles will appear.


You can perform these searches on all works included in the on-line database, or you can narrow the search to one of several groups of works. The current groups are:

  • works from the 20th and 21st centuries
  • works from the 16th to 19th centuries
  • 1933-45 group
  • portraits

The 1933-45 group has been included to allow searching on those works which were or may have been acquired from 1933 onwards and were created up to 1945. This list contains all the works in the Government Art Collection falling within these parameters, irrespective of whether or not provenance or whereabouts during that period are known.

Conventions used in database entries

Dimensions: these are given in centimetres, height followed by width. In the case of 3-dimensional works, height followed by width followed by depth.

Inscriptions: these are given in full whenever possible along with their position, eg.:

BL: J Salmon / 1817

Otherwise conventional abbreviations are used such as:

sdbr = signed and dated bottom right
stl; dverso = signed top left; dated on the reverse

Acquisition Details: while the Collection has been in existence for over a century, the Government began compiling numerical inventories of works of art only in 1946, when retrospective inventory numbering was introduced for works acquired before that date. Since then, the GAC has continued the process of recording and researching works acquired by or in the possession of the Government but for which no early records exist. Such works are described as 'origin uncertain' on the database.

Exemplary Copies of Prints: where an exemplary copy of a print exists, the title of the print is marked with an asterisk, for example - Duck Pond in Surrey *.



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