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In the collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums is a self portrait of Henry Stacy Marks.

Henry Stacy Marks, RA, was a member of the St John’s Wood Clique and is known for his paintings of birds. He also designed pottery for Minton and a frieze for the outside wall of the Royal Albert Hall. Marks was also an ancestor of my husband – a fact that I first discovered some years ago while researching the history of his family.

This highlights the value of Art UK to genealogical research. To trace the twists and turns of a family’s development through documentary sources is a fascinating process, but a new dimension is added with the opportunity to come face-to-face with an ancestor.

Family history research has grown in popularity in recent years, helped in no small part by an ever-increasing number of easy-to-use online resources. Art UK can complement and enhance existing sources of information. The site is rich in portraiture, encompassing a wide range of sitters, including public figures, local notaries and members of the armed forces.

Paintings of various occupations and crafts are represented on Art UK and there are many images of historical land and townscapes, providing a glimpse of long-gone buildings and lost places. Even if the subject matter does not form a connection, one may still find works produced by an ascendant – during my own research I have discovered several works by Henry Stacy Marks on the site that I had not seen before.

For any historian Art UK is a visual feast, providing a fascinating pictorial record of the past. For those who are able to use this material to establish a personal link with the history of their own family, the site is an indispensable resource.

Katey Goodwin, Art UK Head of Research & Digitisation and Project Manager for The Sculpture Project