The BBC and Public Catalogue Foundation are collecting together all the nation's oil paintings in one website. Your Paintings seeks to compile the estimated 200,000 canvases owned by the nation. It's a mammoth task: this number is almost 100 times the holdings of the National Gallery.
The site is now in beta launch with images of some 63,000 paintings from over 800 collections. Around 80% of the works are normally stowed away in storage or hanging in rarely seen places such as town halls or government departments.
As the BBC notes:
These paintings aren’t just of interest to art lovers, they also make up one of the biggest pre-photographic records of 600 years of British society, life and culture, a hugely important educational and historical resource.
London institutions taking part include big guns such as the National Gallery and the V&A but also normally off-limits sources such as the Government Art Collection and the Bank of England.
Because all images are tagged (and, wonderfully, can be tagged by anyone), the resource is highly searchable. 435 paintings are tagged with 'London'. Views include eye-witness paintings from the Blitz, a Hurricane plane parked outside the Guildhall, and this astounding row of Beefeaters.