Copyright is an important issue for museums and galleries in today’s digital world. Everyone is always looking for the next great image to like and share on their favourite website or app.
Although Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums owns the artwork in our collections, we must be careful about whether we are actually allowed to reproduce images of the work.
Copyright exists to protect creators of original artistic works, giving them the right to permit or prevent other people from copying it, taking credit for it, or basically making money from it themselves. What this means is that we can only publish an image, for example on these pages or online, if the artist or their copyright holders have given permission for us to do so.
Except nothing lasts forever, and copyright protection in the UK only applies for 70 years from the end of the year in which the artist who created the work dies.
Then, on January 1 of the following year, the work becomes part of the Public Domain, and those who own the work are free to reproduce the image as they please, such as in a local newspaper column!
And so, given we are at the start of the new year, here are some examples of the works of artists who died in 1949 and are no longer protected by copyright.
Montrose-born Edward Baird died aged just 44, after a life of poor health that included chronic asthma and heart trouble.
He studied his subjects in great detail and worked very slowly as a result, producing little more than 35 paintings in his short life. You can see this painting in Gallery 15: Paradise Lost at Aberdeen Art Gallery.
A bad year for Edwards, 1949 also saw the death of Yorkshireman Edward Wadsworth, who wrote to Aberdeen Art Gallery in 1938 to express his pleasure at learning that they intended to purchase this picture, as much of his childhood had been spent in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire.
You can see this paintings in Gallery 16: Shoreline at Aberdeen Art Gallery.
And finally, here’s a lady and her cat. Or, more accurately, a cat and her lady! If anything on that table gets knocked over, the woman only has herself to blame, right kitty? Happy meow year!