Help — Definitions and Coverage

"Artist" is defined as

Nationality and status do not form part of the criteria for inclusion; papers must be in publicly accessible collections in the United Kingdom.


The papers of architects and photographers are not sought out, though an architect’s papers may be noted where they relate to interior or furniture design, and a photographer where his work is not purely fashion photography.

"Papers" are defined as

manuscript and archival material, such as:

Origin of material

The material may have been produced or collected by the artists themselves or may have originated from family, friends, dealers, patrons, associates, art historians, curators, galleries or critics.


The database has been constructed with reference to various national and international archive and related standards, and to printed sources. For references see Standards and sources.

Search options

Follow these links for help with specific kinds of search:

Artist name search

Location search

Artist type search

Keyword search

Biography search

Help — Artist Name Search

Artist name search method

Searching operates by a direct character-by-character match. The wildcard * may be used to replace elements of a word, or the central element of a string of text.

Single word only (person):

Enter one word of surname only, as entering Surname, Forename may cause no hits.

To find an individual artist quickly, enter the first few letters of the artist's surname or last name:

e.g. Rusk for Ruskin; Eps for Epstein; Kau for Kauffmann.

To improve the success of searches, bear in mind the following:

The names in the database have been constructed according to NCA rules. This means that:

Double-barrelled (compound) surnames are entered under the last element:

e.g. Jones, Sir Edward Coley Burne-
Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Coley

Names using van, de, la etc are entered under the last element unless there is no separation between the article and name:

e.g. Havilland, Sir Geoffrey de
de Havilland, Sir Geoffrey

Delamotte, William
Motte, William de la

Holders of a title of nobility are entered under their surname, not under the title:

e.g. Walpole, Horatio, 4th Earl of Orford
Orford, Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of

We have attempted to address most of these issues by inserting alternative name forms, but this may not be comprehensive.

Alternative names, aliases and maiden names

To search for alternative names, aliases or maiden names:

Enter the alias name:

e.g. Phiz for Hablot Knight Browne

Enter the alternative name:

e.g. Crees for Paul Braddon

Enter the maiden name:

e.g. Paterson for Helen Allingham

Alternative spellings

If a name can be spelt in more than one way, and you are unsure of the correct spelling for your artist, use * to replace the uncertain characters:

e.g. for Clerk or Clark enter Cl*rk in the search box (n.b. searching for Clark will also find Clarke).

Organisation name search

To find an organisation quickly, enter the first few letters of the organisation's first name:

e.g. Mint for Mintons Ltd;Morr for Morris & Co ;


enter a significant word from the organisation’s name:

e.g. Benevolent for Artists Annuity & Benevolent Fund; Newlyn for Newlyn School

Limited companies

To bring up a list of limited companies, use the abbreviation ltd. This will only list companies with Ltd in their name:

eg: ltd will find A Leete & Co Ltd, Abbeydale New Bone China Ltd, Abbott & Co Ltd ... and many others.

Help — Location Search

The Artists' Papers Register does not exist as a repository holding archival material; it is a register of the locations of such material. Every repository will hold papers relating to one or more artists or organisations; every artist or organisation will have papers located in one or more repository.

Searching by location will reveal all the papers in a single repository, regardless of which artist they relate to.

Searching by location can be done in two ways:

Alphabetical browse

Click on the initial letter of the repository required, to reveal an alphabetical list of all repositories whose name begins with that letter. To select a specific repository, click on its name. It is not possible to search the Register by name of location:

e.g. to search for material held at the National Gallery, click N

Region search

Select the region required from the drop down menu, then click Show repositories to reveal a list of all repositories with relevant material in that region.

E.g. to find which repositories in Yorkshire hold relevant papers:

  1. select a region by clicking on the down arrow
  2. click on Yorkshire and the Humber
  3. click Show repositories

In each case, repositories are listed alphabetically by name.

To find out more about the repository

Click on the name of the repository at the top of the screen: this will display useful information about the repository, such as contact details and opening times, through a link to Archon.

To find out more about the artist/organisation

Select an artist from the list by clicking on the name: this will display details of the artist and a list of repositories holding papers on the artist.

Return to Location search form

Help — Artist Type Search

This search uses a controlled vocabulary of terms, mostly taken from the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). Every artist or organisation in the Artists’ Papers Register should have been assigned at least one controlled term. These terms are related to artistic interests only; for searching for non-artistic activity, see Keyword search.

To search by artist type, click on the initial letter of the term you wish to use; scroll down the list until you find the term, then click on it. This will display a list of artists to whom the term has been assigned.

We have tried to follow the principle of specificity, using vague terms such as "artist" only when no more specific activity can be identified.

E.g. Eric Gill can be found by searches using any of the following artist type terms: SCULPTOR, DRAUGHTSMAN, TYPOGRAPHER, STONECARVER, PRINT ENGRAVER and WAR ARTIST.

E.g. Heals & Son Ltd can be found by searches using any of the following artist type terms: FURNISHERS, CABINETMAKERS, UPHOLSTERERS.

E.g. Royal Academy of Arts can be found by search using the following artist type term: ART ACADEMIES.

Return to Artist type search form

Help — Keyword Search

Use the KEYWORD SEARCH to look for a particular subject which might appear in the record description of an artist or art-related organisation, e.g. a person, a recipient of letters, an organisation or the name of a painting, book or art movement.

Note that a search for diary will only retrieve records where that word has actually been used. Because the level of recording on the Artists' Papers Register is at collection level and not item level, not all archival collections of papers containing diaries will be retrieved. Many record entries simply state 'Papers' or 'Correspondence': these collections may contain diaries, sketches or designs, but are not recorded individually on the Register. However, where there is only a single item, such as a ledger or notebook, these will have been recorded and are consequently retrievable using this search.

Searching for a single term or phrase

Enter a single word or phrase

e.g. a search for sketchbook will retrieve all records containing that word; a search for William Morris will retrieve all records where he is mentioned, as the subject of the record or the recipient of letters.

The record search is a free text search.

Return to main search form

Help — Biography Search

Use the BIOGRAPHY SEARCH to look for further information about the artist, where known, not limited to their artistic interest, but including information such as birth, education, career, or in the case of an organisation, establishment, products and history.

Artist type compared with Biography:

E.g. to find Clark, Kenneth Mackenzie, Baron Clark
from artist type, search for: art critics or art historians;
from biography, search for: broadcaster

To find Lovatts Potteries Ltd
from artist type, search for: potteries or pottery companies
from biography, search for: langley ware

The biography search is a free text search.

Return to main search form