In our 168 years we have collected a wealth of paintings, enough to fill a small gallery! We are by no means unique in this so it’s no surprise that the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC started an ambitious project to put all the UK’s oil paintings in public ownership online. They have scoured not only museums and galleries but universities, local councils and hospitals to bring the public paintings they may not have the chance to see otherwise. Some of the artwork photographed for this project was hung in fire stations, zoos and even a lighthouse!
Over 3200 venues took part in the project with 211,861 paintings now on the BBC’s ‘Your Paintings’ website. We are proud to have 31 of our paintings included in this national online collection; especially as these paintings are rarely seen by the public.
Our paintings on ‘display’ are mostly of prominent members of the veterinary profession, such as past Presidents of the RCVS. One of our favourite portraits is that of John Archibald Watt Dollar, FRCVS, FRSE (1866-1947), who was President in 1904-05.
When Dollar presented his portrait to the RCVS in April 1939 things didn’t go to plan, as a letter to Dollar in May 1939 from the then RCVS Registrar, Dr Fred Bullock, reveals: “I am sorry to have to report to you a disaster that has occurred to your picture [whilst hanging it] … it fell to the ground and two corners of the frame broke off”. Dollar replied to say how he valued the frame highly and had “searched over the whole of the West End to find it,” and when it was eventually repaired, at the College’s expense, for a cost of £3, the restorer commented that it was “a very good specimen of Florentine work.” We think the painting itself is rather impressive too!
‘Your Paintings’ encourages all visitors to the site to ‘tag’ the paintings in the catalogue. You are asked ‘What subjects do you see in this painting?’ and ‘What type of painting is this?’ These prompting questions encourage you to delve deeper into the painting, encouraging the sharing of opinions and knowledge. Be warned, tagging can become addictive! You will begin to discover artists you have never heard of and learn more about historical events.