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.

Artists, A–Z

Access the Photographic Archive catalogue to browse this collection.

This series comprises images of works by artists who were British by birth, foreign artists who worked in Britain or foreign artists who painted British sitters abroad. The works featured date from c.1500 to c.1900. The images in this series form by far the largest part of the Photographic Archive. Images remain in their original order: organised A–Z by artist name. Significant artists, or those for which there is a wealth of material, have multiple folders of images. In these cases, images are further subdivided by genre or type, depending on the artist. They may also be organised in ‘catalogue raisonné order’. The images predominantly depict oil paintings but prints and other works on paper are also included.


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.