A.C. Cooper and Related Archives
(Frick Art Reference Library)

Overview

Bouvier, Pierre Louis; Isabella, Countess of Beverley (1750–1812)The Frick Art Reference Library was founded by Helen Clay Frick in 1920 “to encourage and develop the study of the fine arts, and to advance the general knowledge of kindred subjects.” Today, it is one of the outstanding art history libraries in the United States. In addition to a book collection relating to European and American fine arts and decorative arts from the 4th to the mid-20th century, the library also houses an extensive photographic research archive. Inspired by the Robert Witt Library of reproductions (now at the Courtauld Institute in London), Ms. Frick collected study photographs of works of art and even commissioned photo-expeditions to record important, but seldom reproduced objects. The Photoarchive now holds over one million photographs that document the work of over 36,000 artists.

Within the Photoarchive, there are approximately 60,000 large-format negatives that resulted from the photo-expeditions sponsored by Ms. Frick in the United States and abroad from 1920-1967. These negative collections are prized by scholars as a unique visual record of lesser-known and largely unpublished works of art, many of which have subsequently been damaged, lost, or destroyed. Two of these negative collections have been digitized and are currently available in ARTstor: the A.C. Cooper Archive and the Sansoni Archive. The A. C. Cooper Archive consists of approximately 10,000 glass plate and nitrate negatives, as well as polyester “interpositives,” which were produced by a London photographic firm. A. C. Cooper was established in 1918, one of the first companies to specialize in photographing works of art, whether in galleries, auction houses, museums, or private collections. The library maintained a subscription to A. C. Cooper's photographs of lots offered for sale at Sotheby's and Christie's from 1920-1937. These images serve as “illustrations” for many of the unillustrated catalogs in the library's collection. They also provide a visual record of rarely-published art works, as they passed through London art auctions during the 1920s and 1930s, often in transit from one private collection to another. Selections from the collection are represented in ARTstor with over 10,000 images, with a particular focus on paintings, but also including prints and drawings.

These negative collections are prized by scholars as a unique visual record of lesser-known and largely unpublished works of art, many of which have subsequently been damaged, lost, or destroyed.

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Collection information

Total size of collection* 10,034
Percentage of completion 100%
Search terms frick cooper

* Image totals should be regarded as an approximation until a given collection is 100% complete. Users should also bear in mind that the number of images available to them may vary from country to country, reflecting ARTstor’s approach to addressing an international copyright landscape that itself varies from country to country.

Last updated: August 24, 2008

Image Credits

Bouvier, Pierre Louis; Isabella, Countess of Beverley (1750-1812); This image was provided by The Frick Collection; Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle, England

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