Collaborative Agreement Reached Between Artstor and the National Gallery of Art

New York, June 14, 2005. Artstor is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) to collaborate on the digitization and distribution through Artstor of the Foto Reali Archive, one of the most important photographic archives belonging to the National Gallery of Art Library’s Department of Image Collections.

The National Gallery of Art Library’s Department of Image Collections has unusually rich photographic archives. The Foto Reali Archive is among those most prized by scholars, and as such it is routinely consulted by art historians, art conservators and curators, historians of art collecting, and other scholars. Foto Reali was a Florentine photographic firm that surveyed private art collections as well as dealer inventories in Italy in the early twentieth century, often photographing the paintings in situ. Among the private collections represented in the archive are such key collections as those assembled by Harold Acton, Vittorio Cini, Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Luigi Grassi and Eugenio Ventura.

The contents of this important archive will greatly enrich Artstor’s value to a wide audience in the history of art and related fields, especially students of Italian Renaissance painting. It closely complements the Sansoni Archive at the Frick Art Reference Library, concurrently being digitized for distribution through Artstor. Everett Fahy, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has studied the Foto Reali Archive intensively. He stresses the documentary value of these early photographs of Italian paintings. “Many of the early photographs of paintings belonging to dealers show the paintings before they were restored, often in their original frames,” says Fahy. “As many of the works are unknown even to specialists,” adds David Alan Brown, the National Gallery of Art’s Curator of Italian Paintings, “this vast image collection holds out the promise of exciting discoveries."

In reaching this agreement, Neal Turtell, Executive Librarian, National Gallery of Art, expressed his enthusiasm in collaborating to use digital technologies to make these important scholarly resources more broadly available for noncommercial pedagogical and scholarly purposes. “The National Gallery of Art is excited to make the unique contents of the Foto Reali Archive more accessible to the academic and museum community. Our collaboration with Artstor is a natural outgrowth of Paul Mellon’s commitment to excellence in art historical research,” commented Turtell. James Shulman, Executive Director of Artstor, adds, “The Foto Reali archive is a unique source of information on early collections of Italian paintings. Artstor is delighted to be able to play a part in making it more easily accessible for scholarly and educational purposes.”

The Department of Image Collections of the Library at the National Gallery of Art is a study and research collection of images documenting European and American art and architecture. Established in 1943, the collection now contains almost 10 million black-and-white photographs, negatives, slides, and microform images of all aspects of Western art.

Artstor was created in 2001 as an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is now an independent non-profit organization with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching and learning in the arts and associated fields.

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For press information about Artstor, contact Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, Communications Manager, at 212-500-2404.