UK Asks Public to Help Solve Art Mysteries

There are thousands of paintings, hanging in galleries, council chambers, and boardrooms all over the UK, about which nothing is known. Due to the fact that many of the owners , including small museums and institutions, have no resident curators or funding for specialists or research, the effort to identify the unknown paintings is being opened to a wider audience. So through an online platform, the public is being invited to share their knowledge about the artists, dates, subjects, and other information about the paintings.

The project, which has been named Art Detective, is backed by Nicholas Penny, the director of the National Gallery. Participants include everyone from interested members of the public to distinguished historians, such as writer and broadcaster Bendor Grosvenor, best-known for the discovery of lost works by Gainsborough and Van Dyck.

Since a test launch of the site six weeks ago, some works have been identified, but 30,000 paintings by unknown artists, and 15,000 where the attribution is likely wrong, are still awaiting a proper identification.

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