Skip to main content







Archive reference number



The notebooks include descriptions of paintings, drawings and sculptures as well as biographical details about painters and collectors, comments on the architectural features of some of the houses he visited, and information about the provenance and future plans for the sale or relocation of some of the paintings he viewed. Some of the notebooks contain Kay's sketches of individual works.

A number of entries relate to Kay's work for the Estate Duty Office. These have been indicated by an asterisk (*) at the end of a description.

Some notebooks contain updated information added after Kay's death.

Most of the notebooks include indexes. In general, those found at the front of a notebook are indexes to the individuals Kay was visiting and relate to his work for the Estate Duty Office; those at the back of notebooks tend to be indexes to artist, subject, place or a mixture of all three and relate to his work for the National Gallery. If a notebook has been indexed, this has been noted in the relevant description.

Record type


Alternative reference numbers


Administrative history

During his employment at the National Gallery, Harold Kay travelled extensively in Britain and Europe viewing paintings held by galleries, museums, churches, art dealers and private houses. The notebooks contain information about the paintings he saw. The contents and original arrangement of the notebooks suggest that his travel was a mixture of official business for the National Gallery, private research, and work for the Estate Duty Office.

Related material

The Inland Revenue holds the original records relating to the work of the Estate Duty Office. Estate Duty Records created by the National Gallery relating to the inspection of pictures by Gallery staff are held in the National Gallery Archive. An undated handwritten list detailing the contents of Kay's notebooks is held by the National Portrait Gallery Archive [Ref. HIK].

Your list will only be saved temporarily. Inactivity of more than 20 minutes could result in the loss of your list. If you would like to keep a record of your list, we suggest you print it out or email it to yourself.

Your list of records will be sent to us if you request an appointment, and a summary will be included in your appointment email notification.