Photoarchive

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

The Photoarchive documents rarely seen works of art, including more than 200,000 unpublished drawings.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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