Winston Churchill in RAF uniform 1939-1946 (catalogue reference INF 3/3)

14 December 2012

The National Archives has digitised all of our oil paintings as part of an ambitious project by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC to put online the United Kingdom's entire collection of oil paintings in public ownership.

This makes the UK the first country in the world to give such access to its national collection of paintings. The National Archives is one of over 3,217 public bodies across the UK who has participated in the project and 211,861 paintings are now on the Your Paintings website at

Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives, said: 'The National Archives is known as a collection of written government records stretching back a thousand years, so it is extremely valuable to have one of our little known treasures - the original oil paintings created for the Ministry of Information 1939-45 - presented in the context of the nation's artistic heritage.'

The 50 oil paintings from The National Archives were commissioned by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. They include paintings of Winston Churchill in RAF uniform, Haile Selassie and Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. Official war artists represented include Terrence Cuneo, Roy Nockolds, William Little and Eve Kirk.

You can access all of The National Archives' oil paintings on the Your Paintings website, or in original format at The National Archives, Kew.

The vast majority have never been photographed before, and represent a valuable new artistic resource.

Ever wanted to make your mark in the art world?

To help identify and catalogue what can be seen in each painting, the public is being invited to 'tag' the nation's paintings. The results will allow future users of the Your Paintings website to find paintings of subjects that interest them.

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