Archives & Library

Photo Archive Collections

The Photographic Archive are mounted reference images. There are two collections: The Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive and The Tate Photographic Archive. The collections cover British painting and drawing from approximately 1500 to 2000 and are particularly strong on the work of 18th-century artists. The PMCPA collection has been digitised in its entirety. The Tate collection is available to consult in our Public Study Room.

The Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive

Computer screen showing Photo Archive website A collection of approximately 100,000 reference photographs of British paintings, decorative painting, sculpture, drawings and prints covering the period 1500-1900 with some files into the twentieth Century. It has a particular emphasis on the eighteenth century. The images were collected by staff from a variety of sources including, in particular, in-house photography undertaken by the Centre in relation to its publication activities; the Courtauld photographic survey and sales catalogues. Images have been mounted on card and include provenance information. The majority of the images are black and white. The collection contains the following sequences:

Artists, A–Z; Unidentified Artists; Sculptors, A–Z; Sculpture Collections; Decorative Painting; Sketchbooks, Albums of Drawings, Rare books & Collections of Prints and Drawings; Paul Mellon Collection of Paintings; Paul Mellon Collection of Prints and Drawings; Sculpture in the Caribbean.

This historically important and visually rich collection has now been digitised in its entirety, with typed and handwritten descriptive notations transcribed for searchability. It is available for free, online at

The Tate Photographic Archive

A collection of approximately 35,000 reference photographs of British paintings, drawings and prints covering the period 1500 to the twentieth century. The reference resource was created, compiled and used by curators working at Tate and acquired by the Paul Mellon Centre in 2009. The collection comprises a single sequence of ca.350 boxes arranged alphabetically by artist. Material concerning some of the major artists (including Turner, for example) was not transferred at the time of acquisition.

This collection has been catalogued by artist name. To browse the Tate Photographic Archive catalogue records, search by artist name on the library catalogue. Please note that the number of mounts in the file is not indicated on the catalogue.