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.

Sketchbooks, Albums of drawings, rare books & collections of prints and drawings

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 is an idiosyncratic group of photographic material that comprises sketchbooks, albums of drawings, manuscripts, rare books, sale catalogues and occasionally works on paper by collection. A number of artists are well represented in this section, chiefly, Sir Joshua Reynolds. We have copies of the artist’s sitter books in the Royal Academy as well as a number of his sketchbooks and other manuscript material. Other artists strongly represented are John Talman, David Jones, James Ward, Richard Cosway, Philip De Loutherbourg and Henry Bone.


Housed in smaller red boxes than the rest of the Paul Mellon Centre photographic archive, the photographs are exclusively black and white and most are not mounted. Information is often included on photocopies from our negative books, sale catalogues, or collection catalogues to aid identification. Where photographs are mounted, basic information including artist, title, collection and negative number are included.


The majority of this collection are the Centre’s own negatives and were actively acquired by the photographic archive, often at the behest of academics. Photographs were taken at the British Museum, the V&A, the Royal Academy, the National Portrait Gallery, the Oppé collection (now in the Tate collection), the salerooms Sotheby’s and Christie’s and in private collections.

145 files in (193 boxes)

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