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 is particularly strong on the work of 18th century artists. The PMC collection is currently out of house being digitised at present. The Tate collection is still available.

Artists A-Z

Notice: This sequence is in the process of being digitised and catalogued. Access to the uncatalogued digital images can be provided to researchers in the Public Study Room.

This collection forms by far the largest part of the Paul Mellon Centre Photographic archive. Artists represented are either British by birth, foreign artists who have worked in Britain or foreign artists who have painted British sitters abroad. The historic period covered is the period 1500-1900, with particular emphasis on the eighteenth century. The photographs are predominantly of oil paintings but prints and other works on paper are also included. The strength of the collection lies with key eighteenth-century artists such as John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, Allan Ramsay, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Richard Wilson.


Photographs are dry mounted on card with essential information recorded, artist, title, collection and source of photograph with a varying degree of information on provenance, literature exhibiting history, inscriptions and related prints. The images are primarily black and white although in recent years with the development of digital photography we hold some colour material. More recent saleroom additions are cuttings rather than photographs. Until the acquisition of images ended in 2013, the re-sale of pictures through the sale rooms was annotated on the cards.


Photographs were actively acquired from The Courtauld Institute Photographic Survey, salerooms, museums and galleries. The files include original photography commissioned from our own in-house photographer, Douglas Smith (1964-1996) for Paul Mellon Centre publications for which we still hold the negatives. We have also received donations of photographs from a number of academics including W G Constable which have been integrated into the collection.

Active collecting of images and annotation of mounts ended in December 2013.

4876 files in (919 boxes)

Catalogued by artist name.

These materials have all been catalogued on our Library and Photographic Archive catalogue.