Artstor is collaborating with the Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings to digitize and share this renowned photo archive of approximately 189,000 drawings from the 15th to the early 20th century. The first group of more than 7,000 images is now available in the Artstor Digital Library, representing the holdings of ten museums: Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford), British Museum, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Cleveland Museum of Art, Fogg Art Museum (Harvard University), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Gallery of Scotland, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. This initial set consists of drawings by artists with names beginning with the letters A through D—including Robert Adam, Fra Bartolommeo, William Blake, François Boucher, the Carracci family (Lodovico, Agostino, and Annibale), Canaletto, Thomas Chippendale, John Constable, Salvador Dalí, Albrecht Dürer, and others. Artstor is progressively digitizing the archive in phases and additional groups of images will be released over time.

The Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings was a monumental effort by art historians Dr. Walter Gernsheim and Dr. Jutta Gernsheim von Weegmann to survey and document European Old Master drawings in private and public collections in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since 1937, the Gernsheims have photographed drawings at 124 archives, libraries, and museums to produce high-quality black-and-white photographic prints. These photographic prints make up the Corpus Photographicum of Drawings, which the Gernsheims have made available as a subscription service. Only a small number of scholarly photo archives in Europe and the United States own the complete Corpus. The Cleveland Museum of Art has a particularly well-preserved copy of the Corpus, and Artstor used this set of photographic prints as its scanning source for the digitization project.

Artstor’s ongoing efforts to digitize and distribute the Corpus seek to make this remarkable art historical resource more easily accessible to scholars, teachers, and students who would not otherwise be able to consult a physical copy. Antony Griffiths, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, voiced the museum’s strong support for this endeavor to preserve and digitize the Corpus: “The British Museum has been associated with the Gernsheim Photographic Corpus since its beginning, and has seen it grow into the greatest archive of photos of Old Master drawings in the world. We are now delighted that it will be made more widely available through Artstor.” To date, ten museums have granted permissions to release these photographs of their drawings in the Digital Library, representing approximately 40,000 works. Artstor is seeking the participation of the other institutions in this important project to bring the Corpus to a broader audience for scholarly and educational use.

To view the Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings collection: go to the Artstor Digital Library, browse by collection, and click “Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings”; or enter the Keyword Search: gernsheim corpus.

For more detailed information about this collection, visit the Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings collection page.

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