Image collections online

Several major initiatives have created access to images which are immensely useful for local historians. You will find Brentford & Chiswick material on all of these sites.

The collections of the Yale University Centre for British Art have been digitised, giving world-wide access to the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Presented to the university by Paul Mellon, the collection reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward. You can search more than 2,000 paintings, 250 sculptures, 20,000 drawings and watercolors, 40,000 prints, and 35,000 rare books and manuscripts. Works include masterpieces by Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Thomas Gainsborough, J M W Turner, and John Constable, as well as major artists from Europe and America who lived and worked in Britain and many less significant artists whose topographical images are an invaluable historical resource.

You can search on subjects, place names and artists’ names. High quality copies can be downloaded free of charge for private study; no charge is made for publication as long as the appropriate acknowledgement is made.

Art UK is the online home for every public art collection in the UK. It is a UK charity whose website represents a collaboration between more than 3,200 British institutions. It provides clear advice about using the images on the site and is sensitive to copyright issues especially for more recent works. The database is searchable and there is a facility to offer more information if you have something to share.

Watercolour World is sponsored by The Marandi Foundation and provides a free online database of pre-1900 documentary watercolours from public and private collections around the world. Again you can search on place names and artists and you can send in information to help the editors make more sense of the images.

The British Museum’s Collections Online database was relaunched in May 2020. It offers a more than 4 million items from the collection, ranging from images in the Prints and Drawings Dept to archaeology and anthropology and Egyptology. It is fully searchable and good quality images can be downloaded without charge. There is interesting material relating to Brentford, Chiswick and the Thames if you search carefully.

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