Digital Projects

San Marco Mosaics

Saint Basilissa, mosaic, Basilica of San Marco, Venice.

Saint Basilissa, mosaic,
Basilica of San Marco, Venice. 

The National Gallery of Art photographic archives and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection cosponsored Professor Otto Demus’s campaign from 1975 to 1979 to photograph the mosaic art in Venice’s Basilica of Saint Mark. Ekkehard Ritter was the photographer, and the project culminated in Demus’s seminal book, The Mosaics of San Marco in Venice (1984). Dumbarton Oaks is the repository for the color photography; the black-and-white negatives are held by the Gallery’s department of image collections. Nearly 1,200 digital scans are available online.

Kress Collection of Historic Images

Samuel H. Kress residence, New York City, 1938/40

Samuel H. Kress residence, New York City, 1938/40

The department of image collections has digitized the Kress Collection of Historic Images, more than 8,300 scans of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts purchased or once considered for purchase by Samuel H. Kress and his foundation. Most of these objects were part of the great Kress dissemination of art to museums all over the country, with the greater number of these gifts coming to the National Gallery of Art. The digital files were made from negatives, photographs, and lantern slides in the department’s collection (largely gifts from the Kress Foundation), ranging in date from c. 1910 to 1969. They document objects in various states of conservation, as well as some x-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet images. In a few cases, the files include scans of opinions of scholars written on the backs of the photographs. The documentation is in many cases stronger for non–National Gallery of Art objects because most of the negatives of objects donated to the Gallery remained in Washington instead of going back to the Kress Foundation. Additionally, photographs of the Kress apartment in New York show 282 objects in situ before their dispersal.

The Kress Collection of Historic Images project was made possible by a generous grant by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Foto Reali Archive

Anon. (Bologna) 15th century, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Angels. Location unknown.

Unknown artist (Bologna), 15th century,
Madonna and Child Enthroned
with Angels, location unknown.

The Foto Reali Archive is a resource prized by scholars, and as such it is routinely consulted by art historians, conservators, curators, and other researchers. Foto Reali was a Florentine photographic firm that surveyed private art collections as well as dealer inventories in Italy in the early twentieth century, often photographing the paintings in situ. Among the private collections represented in the archive are such key collections as those assembled by Harold Acton, Vittorio Cini, Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Luigi Grassi, and Eugenio Ventura.  

Clarence Ward Archive

Hotel de Ville, Abbeville, France, destroyed 1940. Photograph Clarence Ward

Hotel de Ville, Abbeville,
France, destroyed 1940.
Clarence Ward Collection,
Arthur E. Princehorn, photographer.

The Clarence Ward Archive focuses on French medieval and American architecture and consists of more than four thousand large-format nitrate negatives, from which three thousand black-and-white photographs and four thousand digital images have been produced. These negatives were the product of photographic campaigns undertaken by Clarence Ward (1884–1973) during the 1920s and 1930s, with the assistance of Arthur Princehorn (1904–2001), staff photographer at Oberlin College. Ward was a distinguished professor of art history at Oberlin College, as well as the founder of the college's art library and the first director of the campus museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since Ward conducted his French photographic campaigns during the early part of the 20th century, the resulting photographs provide vital documentation of many structures that were subsequently damaged during World War II.

The Foto Reali and Clarence Ward digitization projects were a collaboration between the National Gallery of Art and ARTstor (a nonprofit initiative founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) to make these important scholarly resources more broadly available for noncommercial, scholarly, and educational purposes through the use of digital technologies.

Individual object records for these collections can be found in the image collections database, Mercury.

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