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.

Unidentified Artists

Access the Photographic Archive catalogue to browse this collection.

This series comprises images of works where the artist is unknown or unidentified. The works featured date from c1500-1900, but the majority pertain to the eighteenth century. The photographs are predominantly of oil paintings, but watercolours, drawings, prints, miniature paintings and silhouettes are also included. The images are arranged according to subject matter and the series includes files on royal portraits, male portraits, female portraits, group portraits, British school miniatures and silhouettes, British landscapes, foreign landscapes, seascapes, animals, allegorical and still life, interiors, miscellaneous designs, miscellaneous engravings, miscellaneous paintings and drawings.


All 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.


Photographs have been 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.

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