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This page describes the 'Sources' part of the website. It begins with information applicable to the entire library of sources; then, the various categories of sources are described individually (for the time being, only three source category texts are published).

General Information:


The 'sources' area of the website provides researchers with a library of primary and secondary sources relating to the history of painting, collecting and the graphic arts in Britain between 1660 and about 1735. These sources have been collected from many libraries and manuscript repositories, as well as from 'surrogate' sources such as published calendars and transcriptions. Sources are presented either as transcripts or summaries of the original text, or else as brief bibliographic records (with no transcribed text); each source is placed into a 'source category'. Full-text sources are indexed by date, name, address and sale.

Source names

Each source is given a 'source name' which gives the basic information necessary to identify it. The source name usually includes the author's name, the title of the item, its date of creation or publication, and - for manuscripts - the repository and shelfmark where the item can be found. When you perform a free-text search, the website searches the source name as well as any transcribed texts. This means that you can locate sources using any word in the source name.

Full-text and bibliographic records

Basic cataloguing information is given for all entries in the library of sources, but sources differ fundamentally in that some are 'full-text' while others are 'bibliographic' records. Full-text records contain some indication of the contents of the source, even though this may fall far short of providing a full transcript of the source text. For example, a painter's will running to 3 pages of manuscript text will still be classed as a full-text source if its contents are summarised in a single paragraph. Usually, though, full-text sources contain a transcription of the most interesting and relevant parts of the text, if not the whole thing; for each entry, explanatory information is given in the 'source note' to put the transcription into context. Transcribed text is published without quotation marks, but summaries and any other editorial interventions appear within square brackets. In contrast to full-text sources, bibliographic records contain no indication of the contents of the source, and offer only a brief index-style listing.

Source categories

Sources have been placed in one or more source categories, following a taxonomy which aims to convey at a glance the scope of what the website offers, and provide a basis for a closer examination of sources that share meaningfully similar characteristics. Most sources are grouped by medium - the method of written communication on which the historical data appears: will, letter, newspaper, inventory, diary, sale catalogue, insurance policy, receipt, and so on. To keep the number of source categories within a sensible limit, certain sources in different but related media have been collected together under subject-based terms such as biography & history, training and employment. Inevitably there are anomalies: though they were proved by ecclesiastical courts, wills are found neither in 'Church Records' nor 'Court Papers'; sale catalogues - mostly bare checklists of pictures - are not found under 'Inventories and Lists'; George Vertue's notebooks have a category all of their own. Further information about the sources within each source category is given in detailed texts elsewhere in this part of the website, although not all source categories are covered yet. Here is the full list of source categories:

Bills, Accounts and Receipts
Church Records
Court Papers
Diaries, Memoir and Travel
History and Biography
Inventories and Lists
Sale Catalogues
Secondary Sources
State Papers
Theory and Technique
Trade Cards and Handbills
Trade Organisations, Training and Employment
Vertue Notebooks


In their original form, the sources transcribed for this website show great diversity in their appearance and in the layout of their texts. They range from a scrap of paper to a published work known in many editions; some texts are presented as continuous prose, others as a multi-column table; some are printed, others rough draughts containing corrections and additions by more than one hand. To accommodate this diversity within a single database, some minor reformatting of texts has sometimes been necessary. For example, regardless of their original format, texts are published in a maximum of four columns, which is the most that the database can accommodate. Generally, the original capitalisation of sources has been preserved, but italics not. Minor interlineations are treated as standard text. All the texts on the site appear in the same size of font, regardless of the size of the original. Line breaks are preserved in transcriptions of manuscript texts but not for printed sources. Editorial changes to the layout of texts are usually so minor that they do not affect how the transcript might be read, but occasionally larger changes have been made, which are mentioned in the text's 'source note.'


Many texts have been transcribed for this website from manuscripts and 17th and 18th century books in libraries and record offices. However, often a 'surrogate' copy has been used. Usually, the surrogate copy is an electronic facsimile of a published source, available in a database such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online, or a published transcription. Quite often, though, a surrogate is a secondary work, such as an artist's monograph, where the original source is cited briefly. The surrogate source is always identified clearly, both in the 'source note' and in a 'surrogate' field. In addition, the surrogate is also identified in the 'source name', unless the surrogate is a straightforward facsimile of the original. Where a source acts as the surrogate for another source, this is specified in their entry.


Source entries can contain over 20 information fields. Not all will be shown in every record, however. Here is a table explaining the content of each field.

Source categorySee above, at the heading 'Source categories'.
DatasetMuch of the material on the website has been contributed by other scholars and institutions. To acknowledge their generosity, the most significant of these are identified as distinct 'datasets.'
Maker(s)A maker is a someone who has created a work of art. The field is only used for the following source categories: 'paintings', 'drawings', 'prints' and 'sculpture'.
Source name / TitleSee above, at the heading 'Source name.'
Date(s)This is the date or period of time when the source was created or published.
TextFull-text records have up to four text fields, which contain the transcribed text of the source, or (in square brackets) a summary of the text.
Parent sourceCertain sources are dependent on other sources, which are called their 'Parent source.' For example, if a newspaper advert is a repetition or close variant of an earlier advert, then the earliest instance of the advert will be considered the 'parent source' of the later adverts. If a bound volume contains many independently- published pamphlets, then the volume might be considered the 'parent' of the pamphlets.
Related sourceSources which are 'parents' of other sources will list these other sources under the heading 'related source'.
WebsiteMany sources are websites, or are books which have been scanned onto websites. In these cases, the URL of the website is given.
Lugt NoSale catalogues that were mentioned in Fritz Lugt's 'Répertoire des Catalogues de Ventes Publiques intéresssant l'art ou la curiosité (The Hague 1938) were allocated a reference number in that volume, which is cited here.
ESTC NoMost publications of the 17th and 18th century are listed on the English Short Title Catalogue, hosted by the British Library. Each item's ESTC number is given, and a link to the ESTC provided.
RepositoryThe 'repository' is the library or other collection where the original source is held. Usually, the repository is given only for unique items such as manuscripts and works of art. Because published items are usually (but not always) found in more than one library, a repository is not specified. ESTC provides a comprehensive list of repositories where published items can be found.
SurrogateSee above, at the heading 'Surrogates'.
Surrogate forSee above, at the heading 'Surrogates'.
PeopleThis field contains the names of people mentioned in a source. See also below at the heading 'Indexing'.
PlacesThis field contains the names of places mentioned in a source. See also below at the heading 'Indexing'.
SalesThis field contains the names of any art sales which are mentioned in a source.
Source NoteThe source note contains contextual information about a whole source.
Text NoteThe text note contains contextual information about a single section of text.
Values (£ s d)Monetary values mentioned in the source are listed here. In due course a facility will be built to enable these values to be searched.
Transaction categoryThe 'transaction category' describes the product or service relating to the monetary value.
Page/SectionMany transcribed sources are broken into different sections. For example, the text of a diary will be divided into separate diary entries. A sale catalogue will be broken up into separate lots.


Sources are indexed by name, by place, by art sale and by date. Sources are also indexed by monetary value but there is no facility to search this yet. It is important that users understand two things. Firstly, that not all names and places mentioned in a source will be indexed. A person who is mentioned in passing, who has little or no involvement with the (broadly defined) art world, will not be indexed. For example, if a painter writes a will that names his children, widow and executors, it is unlikely that these people will be indexed in their own right, unless they are themselves painters, owners or sellers of paintings, or somehow recognisably involved in the art trade. Secondly, that not all sources have been fully indexed yet. In particular, the archive of newspaper adverts are little indexed.

Browsing and searching

Users can both browse and search the sources. Sources can browse through all sources or can limit results by source category. Sources can also be searched via a free-text search, and these searches can be limited by source category and by date (for example, users can search for the word 'auction' only within newspaper advertising that appeared between 1690 and 1695). The search function searches the 'text' and the 'source name' fields, so that a user can search both the content of the source and also other details such as the author's name, the repository and even the shelfmark.

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The newspaper transcripts number 17,000 texts extracted from 120 periodical titles published between 1648 and 1772, but overwhelmingly concentrated in the period 1680 to 1730. The great majority were contributed by Joseph Friedman, and the remainder by the editor and others. Transcripts from the late Stuart period advertise a broad range of cultural goods, but later adverts are concentrated more narrowly in the fine arts and print culture.

Newspapers have been cited in art historical studies of the period 1660-1735, but few collections of transcribed texts have been widely available previously. Sarah Tyacke included several hundred in her 1978 book on London map sellers and, from other sectors of the cultural marketplace, transcripts of adverts relating to drama and music have also been published. If it would be foolhardy to claim that the selection offered here is comprehensive, it certainly represents a major step forward in the availability to scholars of newspaper advertising of material culture in early modern London. The coverage of editorial copy, however, is slim.

In the past, newspaper advertising has been a source for art historians of biographical and other facts and, certainly, the transcripts here are hugely revealing of the trade in cultural goods, and in pictures especially. For example, advertisements name many hundreds of art collectors, auctioneers, art dealers, print sellers and painters unnoticed in the secondary literature; we can follow the careers of frequent advertisers day by day, year by year, in hitherto unavailable detail. But the collections of transcripts here also constitute the raw materials for a study of commercial engagement with these new communications media. Newspapers tell us not only what advertisers got up to in the real world - off the page, as it were - but also about their strategies on the page, in this evolving arena of commerce and public discourse. What do decisions such as whether and how frequently to advertise, and in which title and using what advertising copy, tell us about the consumption of media, the expectations of consumers, their responsiveness to advertising, about brand differentiation and other aspects of the rapidly developing business of marketing in this period? For a comprehensive list of the secondary literature on newspapers consult the Bibliography of British and Irish History, but Michael Harris's study of London newspapers post-1695 is a good introduction. A 1934 article by James Sutherland describes the circulation of the major titles featured on this website and R B Walker's 1973 article discusses advertising in our period.

Readers may wonder whether a collection of transcripts such as this has any place in an age when Britain's entire historical periodical literature can be summoned with the press of a button. On the contrary, this resource is more necessary than ever. When data is so abundant that no individual could ever master it all, a website that has sifted the material to pick out what is most interesting provides a useful service. And the truth is, the advent of the online Burney database is both a blessing and a temptation. Undoubtedly, the facility to read at one's desktop the entire wealth of the Burney collection is extremely powerful. This very convenience, though, poses a risk. Inevitably, from now on many users will rely on keyword searches to locate words of interest to them and will expect, fairly, that these search results represent, more or less, what the Burney has to offer. However, the database often returns very partial results, especially when it is searching through smudged and darkened newspaper sheets. One cannot discover this without browsing laboriously through each page of a title, chronologically - a revelatory experience that will deliver results greatly superior to the search function. Yet few of us have the stomach to undertake a methodical search through entire runs of newspapers in pursuit of our research topic - even though, of course, that was the only way of accessing the material before the database. From our comfortable vantage point of effortless keyword searches, the old methods now seem impossibly demanding. In this sense, then, the online database has both greatly enlarged but also sharply confined our use of the Burney collection. The transcripts presented on this site, in the most part gathered the old-fashioned way, include hundreds which are invisible to keyword search technology.

Happily for users of this website, Joseph Friedman has created an archive of over 13,000 advertisements transcribed from all English newspapers covered by the Burney collection for the period 1660 until the death of Queen Anne in 1714. To this, almost 4,000 more have been added by the editor and others, mainly to extend the coverage beyond Friedman's end date of mid-1714 but with other important differences. A summary of the different approaches of each group of transcripts may help users to understand the strengths and limitations of what the newspaper collections as a whole have to offer:

Joseph Friedman

Friedman has described his sources and approach in the text that introduces his compilation, The trade in cultural goods in late Stuart England: a corpus of newspaper advertisements. The adverts cover, in roughly equal measure, all aspects of the decorative arts and household furnishing; books and virtuoso collecting; and print culture and the art trade. In all there are 8,500 records that appear as full transcripts with a further 4,500 noted as repeats or continuations of an original advertisement. As a finding aid, Friedman has applied a detailed subject category to each advert.

Friedman transcribed a small number of adverts which ultimately did not meet his criteria for inclusion in The trade in cultural goods in late Stuart England but which appear, nonetheless, under his name in the general collection of newspaper adverts.

Richard Stephens

The adverts contributed by the editor of this website were transcribed from the Burney database in 2009-11. They supplement Friedman's collection by extending coverage into the Hanoverian period, from mid-1714 to the end of 1730, but with certain fundamental differences of approach:

- Where Friedman is interested in every appearance of a text, these later transcripts generally feature only the earliest insertion. One exception is 1725, for which a comprehensive set of newspaper coverage of the arts has been made by Clare Lloyd Jacob for the Paul Mellon Centre. For this year alone the approach will (when completed) follow Friedman's approach of featuring every appearance of an advert.

- Friedman covers a huge range of advertising subjects, but these later transcripts focus on what can broadly be defined as the art trade. Occasionally other relevant adverts are included, such as when the household goods of a painter are advertised for sale.

- Whereas Friedman covered all available newspaper titles exhaustively, only the major 'dailies' have been examined thoroughly between 1714 and 1730 (Daily Courant, Daily Post, Daily Journal, Post Man, Post Boy), as these carried the great majority of art trade advertising (please contact the editor for a more detailed schedule of the searches he undertook). Between 1720 and 1730 the order in which newspapers were searched was varied by year, in an effort to flush out the nuances of advertisers' fluctuating preferences, at various times, for one title or another. Basic observations resulting from this approach are included in brief notes attached to the transcripts, as are other occasional comments.

- Supplementing the issue by issue searches, about 130 separate keyword searches have been performed, which have delivered results in both advertising and editorial categories, across the whole range of Burney newspapers titles, and which extend in date from the mid-17th to the late-18th centuries (please contact the editor for a detailed list of these searches).

Claire George

Claire George has kindly allowed us to publish transcripts she made during research for her PhD thesis, Topical Portrait Print Advertising in London Newspapers and The Term Catalogues: 1660-1714 (Durham University, 2005). George's transcripts cover subject areas, and include one important source - the Term Catalogues - not featured by Friedman.

Cristina Martinez

Cristina Martinez, of Carleton University in Ottawa, has kindly shared adverts that she has transcribed from the Burney database in 2010-11 during her research into Hogarth and copyright law. These comprise thorough searches of the Daily Post and London Daily Post for the years 1734-5 in both advertising and editorial categories, plus incomplete coverage of other titles during the same years.

All of the contributors have preserved original spellings but approaches to typography and layout differ. Martinez has preserved capitalisation and italics, the others (more or less) the capitalisation only. In most cases transcripts are arranged as one continuous paragraph of text. Dates are New Style throughout. Links to the relevant entry in the English Short Title Catalogue are given.

Chia-Chuan Hsieh, of the National Central University in Taiwan, and Brian Cowan, of McGill University in Montreal, very kindly made transcripts and other information available to the editor which, while ultimately superseded by Friedman's archive, were extremely helpful at an early stage of the project. Tim Clayton and Richard Sharp have also very generously made available their extensive notes and transcripts of newspaper advertising from the late-17th to mid-18th century, material from these does not appear on the site yet but will guide future work.

If any readers have ideas or material they would like to contribute to the project, then do please contact the editor. Finally, the Hanoverian transcripts undoubtedly contain minor typographical errors which, while they do not undermine the usefulness of the database, are nevertheless regrettable.

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Sale Catalogues:

About 300 catalogues survive from the more than 2,000 sales of paintings, prints and drawings that took place in Britain between the 1660s and 1735. This website will present full texts of all of these catalogues, and certain major collections of pictures acquired during the period, but not sold until later. Coverage of other categories of catalogue is dependent on their interest to the study of the art market. Catalogues of sales of household goods are listed in a brief bibliographic record or receive a partial transcription covering the picture lots that were usually included among the furniture in such sales. Catalogues of artefacts such as sculpture and engraved seals are presented in full, although items of garden and other ornaments that appear in household sales have been omitted. If they form part of a sale catalogue that is substantially devoted to pictures, books on art also feature, although catalogues of book sales have not been searched methodically for this project. Book sales quite often included a section on the fine arts and building trades, and occasionally some lots of bound and loose prints. A more detailed study of book sale catalogues would make a useful contribution to our knowledge of the circulation of texts and of the dissemination of ideas about art.

At December 2011, the website has published the texts of 49 sale catalogues. These include a newly-discovered catalogue of 1668, which is the earliest sale catalogue yet found; the catalogue of the famous sale of Sir Peter Lely's pictures in 1682; and the catalogues of two picture sales of 1684 and 1686, organised by Grinling Gibbons and Parry Walton; the sales of connoisseurs Richard Graham (1712), Sir Robert Gayer (1715), William van Huls (1722) and Thomas Coke (1728); the sales of painters Louis Cheron, Thomas Murray and Sir Godfrey Kneller (all 1726), John Verelst (1728) and Peter Tillemans (1733); and sales by the dealers William Sykes (1724), Carlo Gamberini (1725), Solomon Gautier (1726) and Andrew Hay (1726). Work is well under way to complete the transcription of all relevant sale catalogues (the schedule of publications can be found here). However, the task of indexing the catalogues to facilitate searches by artist, and more complex searches by date and school, is to some extent dependent on the outcome of discussions with the Getty Provenance Index, with which the project hopes to announce a collaboration that would speed up this process.

The value of sale catalogues as historical source - of provenance information, of patterns of taste and collecting and the fluctuating valuations of specific artefacts, of biographical information about artists, collectors and salesmen - is widely acknowledged. Indeed, projects to make later 18th and 19th century sale catalogues available online are current both at the Getty and at JSTOR, in collaboration with the National Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York respectively. London sale catalogues of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, moreover, document the birth and growth of this most influential sales format which has come to dominate art markets worldwide. Auctions established a system of public market valuation of the painter, subject, size, medium, provenance and condition of pictures, and thus were absolutely central to the growth of the art market in London. Catalogues, kept as a permanent record of these valuations, can provide rich material to explore the art auction as a commercial phenomenon: the differentiated aspirations and budgets of clients; the marketing organisations that appraised and disposed of stock; the structure and dynamics of the sales event itself.

Copies of early British sale catalogues are found in many libraries in Britain and abroad. By far the most extensive collection is in the British Library where, besides other miscellaneous examples, are 132 catalogues from 1689-92 collected by Narcissus Luttrell (1657-1732), and a scrapbook of art trade ephemera assembled by John Bagford (1650/1-1716) which contains several dozen sale catalogues. The National Art Library holds many early catalogues, principally two volumes describing sales between 1711 and 1759 that were transcribed by Richard Houlditch, father and son. The Frick Art Reference Library in New York also has a strong collection. Surrogate copies of early sale catalogues, including Luttrell's, are well represented in Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online and Art Sales Catalogues Online, although this last is not widely available in the UK. The Getty Provenance Index also features some of Luttrell's catalogues. Many photocopies and photographs of sale catalogues have been accumulated in the course of this project which are being passed, little by little, to the library of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, with the aim of making available for study there a comprehensive group of catalogues from this period. Copies of catalogues from the Frick Art Reference Library were made by Adam Eaker, whose kind assistance the editor gratefully records.

Annotated catalogues are of the greatest interest, but few survive. Catalogues with the names of buyers are very scarce: only a few hundred individuals are known. Notes of prices are slightly more common. All legible annotations have been transcribed. Almost certainly annotated catalogues were marked by auction clients; auctioneers' own copies of catalogues are almost unknown. An apparently unique example survives in the National Archives (shelfmark FEC1/880). Some other material survives that describes the business of auctions, which will be described more fully in a text to be published with the completion of the art sales database in mid-2012. Briefly for now, though, the chief sources are the account book of Sir Peter Lely's executors; papers associated with several early 1730s sale catalogues in the National Library of Scotland (shelfmark 80.2.64); British Library Add Mss 19929 f.150, which is an account of a coffee house auction organised in 1705 by the print seller John Bulfinch (fl 1680-1726); and the many advertisements for auctions that survive in newspapers and as handbills.

The bibliography of sale catalogues is mixed. The British book trade is well covered. The key works are A N L Munby and L Coral, British book sale catalogues 1676-1800: a union list (London 1977) and its successor, R C Alston, Inventory of sale catalogues of named and attributed owners of books sold by retail or auction, 1676-1800 (Yeadon 2010). For catalogues of sales of pictures and household goods, the sole reference work is still Fritz Lugt, Répertoire des Catalogues de Ventes Publiques intéresssant l'art ou la curiosité (The Hague 1938), vol 1 (1600-1825), which is also available as a database, Art Sales Catalogues Online. Lugt, who described 219 English catalogues, retains some currency but the English Short Title Catalogue (hereafter ESTC) is more reliable and detailed, though still lacking a few catalogues that this project has identified. Unless there are significant differences between copies of the same catalogue only one will have been examined to make the transcriptions presented here. Where multiple copies have been consulted, this is explained in a note. However, the website does not aspire to be a census of early catalogues; instead, links are provided to the ESTC, which lists all known copies. The British Library and National Art Library provide helpful guides to their collections of sale catalogues which point to further reference sources and finding aids, here (BL) and here (NAL).

Richard Stephens, October 2011

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Paintings, Drawings and Prints:

The website aims to publish a large checklist of the paintings, drawings and prints that were created in Britain and its territories during the period under study. There is no attempt here to provide images of or comprehensive catalogue data for any work. That is the job of the owners of artworks, to whose websites links are given wherever possible. The approach is rather to provide researchers with summary data from which they can launch their own more detailed investigations.

At November 2011, the data comprises the Index of British and Irish Paintings, a list of 8,100 paintings in British and Irish public and institutional collections, very generously contributed by Christopher Wright, Catherine Gordon and Mary Peskett Smith. To this, in late 2012 will be added Prints and Drawings from the British Museum, a database of 19,000 catalogue records from that museum's encyclopaedic collections, kindly provided by Sheila O'Connell. This will be supplemented with data from a few other museums with important holdings from the period. Contributions from users of this website - comprising museum, private or art trade data; whether modest or substantial - would be greatly welcomed.

Index of British and Irish Paintings

The data published in November 2011 comes directly from the Access database, maintained at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, on which Christopher Wright based his book British and Irish Paintings in Public Collections: an index of British and Irish oil paintings by artists born before 1870 in public and institutional collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland (Yale 2006). From Wright's checklist of 90,000 paintings by nearly 9,000 painters, this website has extracted and published the records of some 8,100 paintings by 440 artists, held in about 660 collections around the UK and Ireland. For the purposes of its publication on this website - and to distinguish it from the Yale book and the Access database - this dataset has been titled the Index of British and Irish Paintings.

Wright began work on his great index in the 1970s, supported by Catherine Gordon and (from 2000) by Mary Peskett Smith. It is a monumental feat; in his preface Brian Allen calls it 'one of the great art historical reference books of our time'. Yet the index has been overshadowed by the equally impressive work of the Public Catalogue Foundation (hereafter PCF), whose fully-illustrated county-by-county checklists of paintings in public collections began to appear in 2004, and whose images are now being transferred to a BBC website, Your Paintings. Where the PCF's checklists and the Your Paintings website are fully-illustrated, Wright's work has no images; while the PCF always planned to migrate to the web - a medium perfectly suited to its work - Wright's index is confined in a book format that struggles with its massiveness; and where the PCF bases its checklists on direct study of the paintings, Wright's index was assembled from literary sources.

It is hoped that the publication on this website of the Index of British and Irish Paintings will go some way to reasserting the enduring value of Wright's great work. For although the PCF's approach is superior for many purposes, the publication of Wright's data here - accompanied by links to the images on Your Paintings and on museums' own online databases - overcomes its principal limitation, as a non-illustrated volume. This dealt with, Wright's literary approach emerges as his great strength. He spent decades scouring the exhibition and museum catalogues, monographs, country house and regional guide books of the past century, as well as soliciting a very substantial body of unpublished information from owners and curators (all of which material can be consulted at the Paul Mellon Centre). The index summarises these sources and provides a brief history of attributions, the identity of sitters and other minor details of use to the researcher. The index tells us, for instance, that a century ago a portrait of Henry, 10th earl of Pembroke now classed as the work of a follower of Jonathan Richardson Snr (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) was described as a portrait of the 9th earl by George Knapton. Long-term loans from private collections are identified as such, for example the group lent by the Hanbury Williams family on view at Lyme Park in Cheshire (National Trust). Paintings lost, deaccessioned or destroyed by war are included. Although there is no information about size or medium, about 1650 of the paintings are dated.

Clearly, Wright's index is a snapshot in time which will itself age as corrections, accessions and deaccessions happen. The task of photographing and preparing basic catalogue data for the PCF volumes has stimulated new thinking about many paintings and their attributions which Wright's index, even in the few years since it appeared, cannot reflect. For example, the Bank of England's portrait of Sir Robert Clayton is attributed to Laureys de Castro on Your Paintings, but Wright has called it British School; the copy by Symon Stone of Titian's Georges d'Armagnac and his secretary at Lamport does not feature in Wright's index, presumably because it was then considered an Italian copy. Even so, as a statement of the national stock of paintings of the period under study here, Wright's work is unrivalled.

What really sets Wright's index apart is its comprehensiveness. The Index of British and Irish Paintings lists 8,100 paintings by 440 artists in our period, against 1,700 paintings by 210 artists illustrated on Your Paintings. This gap will narrow substantially over time, for the PCF has barely begun its work in Scotland and Wales, and the National Trust volumes are not yet ready. It must be hoped that the very size of the Your Paintings picture library will create a momentum that leads non-participating collections to join in, so that Your Paintings will eventually achieve its stated aim 'to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings.'. But even allowing for the future growth of the PCF and Your Paintings, Wright's coverage will never be matched entirely. The difference, it is true, will not matter to most people, but users of this website will wish to know that Wright included many collections that fall outside of the PCF's 'public collections' remit, such as the paintings at Chequers and Chevening; at Eton, Winchester and other schools; in livery companies, learned societies and gentlemen's clubs; and in countless buildings with very modest holdings, such as historic parish churches. Wright's coverage, most obviously, extends to the Republic of Ireland, and includes the royal collection and the Register of Conditionally-Exempt Works of Art, neither of which feature in the PCF's agenda. He has also included certain quasi-public institutions - the Oxbridge colleges, Bodleian library and other university bodies, and Bishops' palaces - that await treatment by the PCF in the years to come.

Unsurprisingly, the task of extracting data from the Access database has thrown up certain anomalies. The period under study here is 1660 to 1735 but, as Wright's index includes paintings by obscure painters about whom little or nothing is known beyond the evidence of their surviving pictures, rigorous enforcement of these dates could have resulted in the exclusion of a painter known to have been working in the 1650s whose working life, in fact, extended into the Restoration period. To minimise the risk of this, the criteria used for the data presented here were that the artist must have worked in the century 1650 to 1750, except (a) if it was known that he or she died before 1660; or (b) if all evidence of activity post-dated 1740. The consequence is that records of works with dates as diverse as 1627 and 1763 are included, but this seemed preferable to excluding them. Generally, only artists born in or before 1710 were included but, again, this results in the inclusion of later men such as Thomas Worlidge (born 1700) and Francis Hayman (born 1710) who are substantially figures of the mid-century art world. Unattributed works with dates between 1650 and 1750 are included, but excluded are some 5,000 undated 'British School' paintings of the 17th and 18th century, even though many will date from the period under study here. This is unfortunate but there seemed to be no alternative to this approach, other than examining each unattributed and undated work to estimate the year of production. Links to the Your Paintings images of unattributed works (of all period) are given here.

Richard Stephens, November 2011

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