The National Gallery of Art (NGA), and specifically the Library’s department of image collections (DLI), has long enjoyed the generosity of Samuel H. Kress and his foundation. This department’s photographic archive, now one of the largest art historical photo collections in the world, was established by the Kress Foundation in 1970, and the Gallery itself was shaped by Kress’s seminal gifts, beginning in 1939. While the majority of his collection went to the National Gallery of Art, Kress also donated European art to 90 institutions in 33 states, making art accessible to areas formerly without such cultural resources.
After the dissemination of the collection (completed in 1961), the Kress Foundation continued to serve as a repository for many archival and photographic materials pertaining to the Kress Collection. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Foundation donated its sizable holdings of photographs and negatives of the collection to DLI for preservation and reproduction, if needed. These negatives were made by various photographers from about 1910 to 1969, and represent objects from the Kress gift (not including the Dreyfus medals and bronzes). Among the photographers represented are Foto Reali, Murray Keyes (fig. 1), Alfred Martin, Siegfried Colten, Paul Kiehart (fig. 2), the NGA, and Bullaty-Lomeo. They document the objects in various views and states of conservation and occasionally include infrared images and x-rays. For decades these materials have been consulted by art historians and have been an important resource for documentation of the physical history of these objects.