In 2005, ARTstor announced it would digitize the more than 3,500 photographs in the Foto Reali Archive, one of the most important photographic archives belonging to the National Gallery of Art Library’s Department of Image Collections. We are now pleased to announce that the Foto Reali Archive is available to ARTstor users.

The Foto Reali Archive is prized by scholars, and 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, Luigi Grassi, Eugenio Ventura, and Alessandro Contini Bonacossi. Especially noteworthy are the more than 700 paintings, mostly from the Contini Bonacossi collection, that later found their way into the great Samuel H. Kress Collection, itself now being digitized by ARTstor. The Foto Reali images thus provide helpful documentation of many Kress paintings prior to subsequent cleaning and restoration efforts.

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, presently 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.”

To browse these new ARTstor images, please click on “Image Gallery” on the ARTstor “welcome page” and then select “Foto Reali Archive (National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections).” Or simply search the keyword phrase “Foto Reali.” keyword phrase “Clarence Ward.”