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.

Sketchbooks, Albums of Drawings, Rare Books, and Collections of Prints and Drawings

Access the Photographic Archive catalogue to browse this collection.

This series comprises images of sketchbooks; albums of drawings; manuscripts; rare books; sale catalogues and occasionally works on paper. It is a somewhat idiosyncratic group, but all items are related to British art and artists active between c.1500 and c.1900. Images are ordered in groups related to the physical object photographed (e.g. individual sketchbook, etc.). A number of artists are well represented including, in particular, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Talman, David Jones, James Ward, Richard Cosway, Philip James 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.