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Early in the pandemic we started seeing into other homes as never before via Zoom and other platforms, and the background bookcase became an overnight sensation.


'Bookcase credibility' ('What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you') was launched on Twitter. The Guardian published 'Our new lockdown game: judging people by their bookshelves'. Town and Country awarded celebrities' shelves marks out of 10. The New York Times went further, identifying individual books on the shelves of Tom Hanks and Yo-Yo Ma.


Enjoy browsing these shelves! If you can tell us who painted Mr Armitage, or identify the sitter in the portrait by Lintott, please go to the artwork page and send a message to Art Detective.

12 artworks
A Collector (Self Portrait)
© the artist. Photo credit: Royal Watercolour Society

A Collector (Self Portrait)

Robert Brown (b.1927)

Gouache on paper

H 32.8 x W 20 cm

Royal Watercolour Society

Portrait of a Woman before a Bookcase
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

Portrait of a Woman before a Bookcase

Henry John Lintott (1877–1965)

Oil on canvas

H 91.3 x W 70.8 cm

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

David Wiggins, Professor of Philosophy (1989–1994)
© the artist. Photo credit: Birkbeck, University of London

David Wiggins, Professor of Philosophy (1989–1994) 1994

Eccy de Jonge

Oil on canvas

H 75 x W 59.5 cm

Birkbeck, University of London

Professor and Doctor Ford
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Southampton

Professor and Doctor Ford 1974

Juliet Kathleen Pannett (1911–2005)

Oil on canvas

H 60 x W 75 cm

University of Southampton

John Keats
Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

John Keats 1821–1823, dated 1821

Joseph Severn (1793–1879)

Oil on canvas

H 56.5 x W 41.9 cm

National Portrait Gallery, London

Mr Armitage, Town Clerk of Falmouth
Photo credit: Falmouth Town Council

Mr Armitage, Town Clerk of Falmouth 1908

unknown artist

Oil on canvas

H 99 x W 72 cm

Falmouth Town Council

Mother
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Erewash Borough Council

Mother 1932

William D. Moore (active 1930s)

Oil on board

H 125 x W 86.3 cm

Erewash Borough Council

Sir James Mathews, MA, LLD, JP
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Southampton Solent University

Sir James Mathews, MA, LLD, JP 1994

Peter L. Folkes (1923–2019)

Oil on canvas

H 124.3 x W 99.5 cm

Southampton Solent University

Cardinal Carlo Cerri
Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

Cardinal Carlo Cerri 1669-79

Jakob Ferdinand Voet (1639–c.1700)

Oil on canvas

H 121.3 x W 97.8 cm

The National Gallery, London

Professor Robert Douglas Lockhart (1894–1987)
© estate of the artist. Photo credit: University of Aberdeen

Professor Robert Douglas Lockhart (1894–1987) 1964

Herbert James Gunn (1893–1964)

Oil on canvas

H 90 x W 70 cm

University of Aberdeen

Mrs Alington
© the artist. Photo credit: Great Bardfield Historical Society

Mrs Alington c.1973

Philippa Mary Thomas (b.1919)

Oil on canvas

H 50.6 x W 40.9 cm

Great Bardfield Historical Society

George Davis Hornblower (1864–1951)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Royal Institution of Cornwall

George Davis Hornblower (1864–1951)

Gerald Festus Kelly (1879–1972)

Oil on canvas

H 109 x W 119 cm

Royal Institution of Cornwall