National Inventory of Continental European Paintings


NICE Paintings will include all pre-1900 Continental European oil paintings in UK public collections. For the purposes of this project:

Pre-1900 means paintings that were, or may have been, painted between 1200 and 1900.

Continental European means works painted by artists who are defined in the Getty's Union List of Artists' Names (ULAN) as belonging to non-British, Continental European schools. These include many artists of European origin who spent much of their career in Britain.

Oil paintings means all works painted in, or including the use of, oil or tempera on whatever support. Miniatures and frescoes (and other paintings painted in situ on buildings) are not included, nor are icons (devotional works in the Eastern Orthodox tradition).

The UK includes England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Public collections include national museums, museums managed by or on behalf of local authorities, those managed by charitable trusts, universities, and other public bodies, museums run by professional bodies and open to the public, and country house collections managed by charitable trusts.

How to use the database

The NICE Paintings database contains detailed catalogue information on 8,000 pictures, using established catalogue terms.

You can search the whole database for words and names such as 'Spanish', 'portrait' or 'Monet', or for words and names in particular data fields such as artist, title, acquisition, description etc.

Data Fields

This detailed description of the project's data fields will make your searches more productive.

Title: The established title of the paintings as recorded by, or agreed with, the museum.

Alternative title: other title(s) by which the painting is or has been known.

Original foreign language title: a title by which the painting was known when created, first exhibited etc., based on evidence.

Collection: the museum or organisation responsible for the painting. This may not be the building in which it is currently housed and does not imply that it is currently on display.

Artist: the artist or artists responsible for creating the painting. For many painting this may be uncertain or a matter of opinion. More than one artist may therefore be listed. This may reflect collaboration between two artists, one named artist copying the work of another, or a variety of current opinions as to the authorship of the work. Previous attributions, usually those in printed catalogues or other publications are also recorded

The terms used to qualify an attribution are defined as follows:

Important: The spelling of artists' names and biographical data is derived from the Getty's Union List of Artists' Names (ULAN). If you cannot find an artist on the NICE Paintings database you should check for the Getty's spelling of the name on

Date: if the work is dated or a precise date is otherwise known.

Date earliest: the earliest date the work could have been made.

Date latest: the latest date the work could have been made.

Signed: if the work is signed by the artist.

Description: a brief description or summary of significant information about the painting.

Inscription: the location and exact form of all inscriptions on the front of the work and of inscriptions by the artist on the back of the work.

Subject: a list of keywords enabling a search for broad pictorial subjects. The keywords are:

Some keywords, such as allegory, animal, history, literature, mythology, place, portrait and religion, may have details added in brackets, enabling more specific searches to be made. We intend to develop and add more detail to this feature at a later stage in the project.

Material: two sets of keywords for material and support are drawn from the Getty's Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Details and qualifications (such as 'laid on...') are added in brackets where relevant. Material keywords are:

Support keywords are:

Measurements: the maximum size of the support recorded to the nearest millimetre if possible. Height is followed by width. If the measurements are estimates, this is recorded. For diptychs and triptychs etc., these may be the maximum measurements of the ensemble, including frame. The Notes will make this clear if this is the case.

Current accession number: the unique identity number given to the painting by the museum. You are recommended to quote this number when making an enquiry to the museum collection.

Previous accession number: where identity numbers have changed because of recataloguing, etc., previous numbers may be recorded here.

Acquisition details: the way the museum acquired the painting.

Provenance: previous owners and transfers of ownership before the painting was acquired by the museum, in chronological order.

Principal exhibitions: significant exhibitions in which the paintings has been included.

Principal publications: significant publications in which the painting has been featured, including exhibition catalogues. These may include further information about the painting and its art historical context.

Notes: other information about the painting and its history. This can include labels and inscriptions on the back of the painting or its frame, discussion of related works and alternative attributions, information about the donor and previous owners, further reading and information sources.



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