Glasgow University is teaming up with National Museums Liverpool, Manchester Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries and York Art Gallery to make 1,000 Old Masters available on the internet.
Experts will explore the origins, history and attribution of each work before cataloguing them in the online database.
The 18-month partnership forms the latest phase of the university's National Inventory Research Project (NIRP).
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Researchers eventually hope to publish online all 22,000 pre-1900 Continental European oil paintings in the UK's public collections. Their online database, NICE Paintings, already contains 9,245 records.
The latest phase of the work is supported by funding from the Samuel H Kress Foundation, the John Ellerman Foundation and the Pilgrim Trust.
Andrew Greg, NIRP director and honorary research fellow at Glasgow University, said the team were very excited to start the next stage of the National Inventory Research Project.