Your Paintings: A portrait of Rufus Isaacs

Image caption Rufus Isaacs lived from 1860 to 1935

An oil painting of a stately-looking judge in his wig and robes hangs at Reading Crown Court.

Painted in 1914 by Oswald Birley, the subject is Rufus Isaacs. He was the son of a Jewish fruit merchant and became the 1st Marquess of Reading in 1926.

He lived at Foxhill House in one of the town's suburbs, Earley, and is a former Viceroy of India and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

A politician as well as a lawyer and jurist, Lord Reading was also the last Liberal party Foreign Secretary.

The painting is on loan from Reading Museum, which has contributed its entire oil painting collection to the BBC's Your Paintings project.

Your Paintings, run in partnership with The Public Catalogue Foundation, aims to create a complete catalogue of every oil painting in the national collection on a dedicated website.

The UK has an outstanding national art collection of 200,000 oil paintings, held in a vast range of public institutions.

But though they are owned by UK publicly-funded organisations, 80% of the paintings are not on display. They are either hidden away in storage, or are in buildings that the public cannot access.

Reading Museum's curator of art Elaine Blake said the project launch is "incredibly exciting".

"It adds to our own initiatives to increase access to works in the museum store," she said.

"Absolutely anyone can visit the store by appointment to see particular works."

She added that the museum's art collection is used in a range of exhibitions and some works are on loan to institutions, such as the Rufus Isaacs portrait at Reading Crown Court.

"All works on loan are in public spaces not tucked away in buildings without public access," Ms Blake said.

"As a result of the Your Paintings website we are anticipating an exciting rise in enquiries about the oil paintings from people around the world."

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