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The Photoarchive contains more than one million photographs of works of art in the Western tradition from the fourth to the twentieth centuries.

closeup of many photos of paintings depicting town scenes

Each photograph is accompanied by documentation about the work of art.

photo of painting of man holding candle alongside text about artwork

The Photoarchive collects multiple images of a single work, including details and color reproductions.

photo of bilblical scene painting alongside color closeup of devil-like creature seen in larger scene

Multiple images of a single work of art allow researchers a more complex understanding of the object, including how it may have been altered over time.

photo of similar biblical image in black and white including smaller paiintings and a version in color

The library sponsored photographic expeditions throughout the United States and Italy to document nearly 60,000 works of art in private and small public collections, both before and after restoration.

photo of painting of man standing, depicting before and after restoration

Photographs that document the conservation history of an object are an important aspect of the Photoarchive.

photo of painting of mother with infant alongside closeups depicting conservation

Versions, copies, and pastiches are also collected: these images complete the history of the object, allowing researchers to trace stylistic developments and influences.

photo of eight different images of Sir Thomas More

The Photoarchive documents rarely seen works of art, including more than 200,000 unpublished drawings.

drawing of nine heads,  all of same old man,  seen from varying perspective

For example, few monographs include all of the preparatory studies for a single work of art.

photo of four sketches of figures in clouds

Another significant feature of the Photoarchive is its collection of little-known works by well-known artists.

photo of illustration, front: drawing of man on bike with "E. Hopper 1900" inscribed, back: written detail

The Photoarchive contains many reproductions of works of art that have been lost, stolen, or destroyed.

photo of painting of King Philip IV of Spain with detail

For example, these two 18th-century portraits were photographed in a French gallery in 1953 but are now unlocated.

photo of two paintings of young girl seated with dog, and young girl standing with dog, circa 18th century

The Photoarchive collection continues to grow; thousands of new photographs, reproductions and digital images are acquired every year.

photo of spread of photos, sketches and paper

Click on an image to enlarge the slideshow.

The Photoarchive is a study collection of more than one million photographic reproductions of works of art from the fourth to the mid-twentieth century by artists trained in the Western tradition. The Photoarchive was founded first and foremost to facilitate object-oriented research; the documentation it offers traces the essential elements of the biography of the work of art — changes of attribution, ownership, and condition. The images, together with the historical information, provide an unparalleled resource for the study of the history of art. Digital projects are proceeding as funding becomes available: at present, the Library's collection of 57,000 specially commissioned photographs of works of art is accessible through the Frick Digital Image Archive and ARTstor.

Announcement: Some of the photographs for American artists with last names beginning with KA through ZU in the Frick Art Reference Library Photoarchive are being digitized and are currently unavailable. Please contact us in advance of your visit to learn what materials are accessible. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

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