Collection Search Help

The Collection: help on searching and browsing

You can access works in the Collection in the following ways:

  1. Searches
  2. Browsable lists

1. Searches

Search (simple search)

The search box at the top of every page enables you to search on works of art in the Collection.

This Collection search uses information about artists, titles, subjects, places and portraits, and returns results in a set of tabs as follows:

All  |  Artists  |  Titles  |  Subjects  |  Places  |  Portraits

For example, Searching on the word ‘crow’ returns results for artists (Nick Crowe), titles (The Crow Speaks, The Crowd in the Mall, Bergen – Boreal Crown, etc), subjects (crown, crowd, etc as well as crow) and places (Crowhurst Manor).

Searching on more than one word will only return results where the words are found together, such as crow speaks or boreal crown; crowd mall will not work.

If you want to find a specific title or artist (for example), it is necessary to put the whole phrase in quotes, eg “Nick Crowe”; “The Crow Speaks” (note this is also case-sensitive). Using the term “crow” in quotes returns only those works where the subject is crow.

Advanced Search 

You can search for works of art using a range of criteria:

  • Artist: Example, gainsborough
  • Title: Example, sailing
  • Dates (of work): Enter a range. For a single year enter the same year in each box.  Example: 1959 To: 1960
  • Medium:  Examples: tempera; oil on board
  • Subject: Use double quotes if an exact match is required. Examples: crow; “crow
  • Place: Place names depicted in works. Example: windermere
  • Portrait: People depicted in works. Example: nelson
  • Description: This is a descriptive text about the work, displayed on the About the work tab of the individual work. Note that only a proportion of works currently have a Description. Example: oriental
  • GAC number: Enter the GAC number to find a specific work. Example: 1976
  • Location: Current location of works. (Due to security restrictions, a few locations cannot be identified). Examples: Berlin; Downing.

You can filter the search for different groups of works, currently:

Works from the 16th – 19th century
Works from the 20th – 21st century
1933-45 group. This has been included to assist with spoliation research by making it possible to search on those works which were or may have been acquired from 1933 onwards and were created up to 1945. This list contains all the works in the Government Art Collection falling within these parameters, irrespective of whether or not provenance or whereabouts during that period are known.

Several search criteria may be used together to narrow the search. You can switch the display of results between text only or text with thumbnail images. You can also change the sort order between artist’s name, date of work, title and GAC number (the default is artist’s name).

2. Browsable lists


Alphabetical lists of artists. Each letter is subdivided using the “Show artists” selection in the box at the top of the second column.

You can also search the lists using the “Search artists by name” box.


Alphabetical lists of sitters in portraits. Each letter is subdivided using the “Show sitters” selection in the box at the top of the second column.

You can also search the lists using the “Search sitters by name” box.


Places depicted in works. These are subdivided into groups. [Selecting any group will show the next level down; the “See matching works” button allows you to view results at any level of the hierarchy; selecting the lowest level of the hierarchy takes you directly to the results page.]


Subject matter of works. These are subdivided into groups. [Unlike the Places browser, results are only retrieved when selecting the lowest level in the hierarchy.]


Timeline of selected works. This is a small proportion of representative works from the Collection, divided into groups of 50 years and 10 years.

Current Locations  

Where the works are displayed. These are subdivided into groups by country and city. Due to security restrictions outside our control, a small proportion of locations cannot be identified – these are listed as “other locations abroad”. Not all the works of art in the Collection are yet included on the website, so the list of works for each location may not be complete. The information provided here is as current as possible, but it may take up to 1 month for changes to appear on the site.

Related Pages

Search the Collection