Sansoni Archive (Frick Art Reference Library)

Overview

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 the 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.

Selections from this collection are represented in ARTstor with over 3300 images, documenting paintings, fresco cycles, and other forms of architectural decoration throughout Italy.


Within the Photoarchive, there are approximately 60,000 large-format negatives, which 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 These negative collections are prized by scholars as a unique visual record of lesser-known and largely unpublished works of art, many of which have subsequently been damaged, lost, or destroyed.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 Sansoni Archive and the A.C. Cooper Archive. The Sansoni Archive consists of approximately 9,000 glass plate negatives, which were produced in the early 20th century by the Italian photographic firm. Mario Sansoni was occasionally accompanied by Ms. Frick during his photographic campaigns in Italy. In some cases, the Sansoni negatives are the only record of works of art that have since become unavailable to the public, or have been severely damaged or permanently lost. Selections from this collection are represented in ARTstor with over 8,000 images, documenting paintings, fresco cycles, and other forms of architectural decoration throughout Italy.

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Collection information

Total size of collection* 8,847
Percentage of completion 100%
Search terms frick sansoni

* 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: July 16, 2008