The National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) and ARTstor announced today that they had reached an agreement to collaborate on the distribution through ARTstor of approximately 4,000 high quality digital images of French medieval architecture and approximately 3,000 images of American architecture from the Clarence Ward Archive.

The National Gallery of Art Library’s Department of Image Collections boasts unusually rich photographic archives. One of the most important and most heavily used collections is the Clarence Ward Archive, devoted mostly to French medieval (especially Gothic) and American architecture from Colonial times to the early 20th century. This archive is the product of focused photographic campaigns undertaken by Ward (1884-1973) who was a distinguished professor of art history at Oberlin College for many years. In conducting a series of photographic campaigns in the 1920s and 1930s, he enlisted Arthur Princehorn (1904-2001), staff photographer at Oberlin. The negatives produced by Ward and Princehorn are invaluable, both to medievalists and students of American architecture.

This project will digitize the ca. 7,000 Clarence Ward large format nitrate negatives, richly documenting Romanesque and Gothic architecture in France and selectively documenting American architecture from Colonial times through the early 20th century. These two landmark archives will greatly enrich ARTstor’s value to a wide audience in the history of art and architecture and related fields.

“The Clarence Ward archive of photographs of medieval buildings is an immensely important source for high quality images of Romanesque and Gothic architecture,” attests Caroline Bruzelius, A.M. Cogan Professor of Art History at Duke University. “To many students and scholars, these photographs will already be familiar from Jean Bony’s book on Gothic Architecture in France as well as other scholarly publications. Clarence Ward looked at, and photographed, buildings with the eye of an architectural historian, so that his pictures are especially valuable for the history of construction technique and architectural design. Moreover, a good proportion of the photographs were taken before the destruction wrought by World War II.”

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 beautiful images from the Ward Archive more accessible to the academic community. It 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 Clarence Ward archive not only documents splendid works, but captures them in a splendid way. Working together with the National Gallery to make such a fragile and stunning collection available to scholars and teachers in a range of fields reminds us of the value of the resources that lay hidden in the world’s great photo archives. ARTstor is delighted to be able to play a part in making it available for scholarly and educational purposes.”

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.

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.