Digital Projects

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 under consideration 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, 282 objects depicted in scanned photographs of the Kress apartment in New York have been identified and linked to the apartment images.
The project was made possible by a generous grant by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. More about Kress Collection of Historic Images

Foto Reali Archive

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

Anon. (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, art conservators and curators, historians of art collecting, 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.  
Everett Fahy, retired John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has studied the Foto Reali Archive intensively. He stresses the documentary value of these early photographs of Italian paintings. “Many of the early photographs of paintings belonging to dealers show the paintings before they were restored, often in their original frames,” says Fahy. “As many of the works are unknown even to specialists,” adds David Alan Brown, curator of Italian paintings at the National Gallery of Art, “this vast image collection holds out the promise of exciting discoveries."

The Foto Reali digitization project was 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. More than 3,300 digital images are represented in this archive.

Clarence Ward Archive

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

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

The Clarence Ward Archive focuses on French medieval and American Architecture and consists of more than 4,000 large-format nitrate negatives, 3,000 black-and-white photographs, and 4,000 digital images. 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 himself 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. In addition to pursing his scholarly interests in Medieval French and American architecture, Ward was a practicing architect, who designed a number of buildings in the Oberlin community. 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.

According to Caroline Bruzelius, Anne M. Cogan Professor of Art History at Duke University, “The Clarence Ward archive of photographs of medieval buildings is an immensely important source for high-quality images of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. To many students and scholars, these photographs will already be familiar from Jean Bony's book on Gothic architecture in France, as well as other scholarly publications. Clarence Ward looked at, and photographed, buildings with the eye of an architectural historian, so that his pictures are especially valuable for the history of construction technique and architectural design. Moreover, a good proportion of the photographs were taken before the destruction wrought by World War II."


The Clarence Ward digitization project was 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. Almost 4,000 digital images are represented in the Clarence Ward Archive, focusing on Romanesque and Gothic architecture in France, as well as American architecture from the colonial period to the early 20th century.

Individual object records for all three collections can be found in the image collections database in Mercury, with thumbnail links to Oculus, the library's image portal. The Oculus main page also includes a link to the Kress Collection of Historic Images, the Foto Reali Archive and the Clarence Ward Archive groups for searching within the subset.

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Image Collections
National Gallery of Art
2000B South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785

Contact image collections or call (202) 842-6026

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