The Photograph Archives of the Smithsonian American Art Museum contains over a half million photographs, negatives and slides documenting American art from colonial to contemporary times. As a research and study collection, the Archives constitutes a unique visual record of American art, sometimes providing the only known image of an artwork that has since been altered, damaged or lost. We are actively cataloging and digitizing the holdings in our archives. To-date, about 20% of the images have been digitized.
Notable collections in the Archives include:
Peter A. Juley & Son Collection
The Peter A. Juley & Son Collection contains 127,000 black-and-white photographic negatives documenting the work of more than 11,000 American artists. Peter A. Juley (1862-1937) and his son Paul P. Juley (1890-1975) headed the largest and most respected fine arts photography firm in New York from 1906 to 1975. Their clients included major artists, galleries, museums, and private collectors of the period. The firm also acquired negatives from other noted fine arts photographers, such as A. B. Bogart, Walter Russell, and De Witt Ward. Spanning nearly seventy years, the archive constitutes a unique visual record of American art, sometimes providing the only photographic documentation of altered, damaged, or lost works. The collection also holds 4,700 photographic portraits of artists. The Juley Collection was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1975 and forms the core of the Photograph Archives.
Walter Rosenblum Collection
The Walter Rosenblum Collection is comprised of approximately 7,500 black-and-white 4 x 5” negatives taken by noted New York photographer Walter Rosenblum. Rosenblum, born in 1919, joined the Photo League in the 1930s, and studied under Life Magazine photographers Eliot Elisofon and Paul Strand. He worked as a professional photographer on the staff of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and during World War II served as a highly decorated combat photographer. After the war he served as president of the Photo League from 1941 to 1948 and later served on the faculty of Brooklyn College, were he was instrumental in developing a Master of Fine Arts program in photography (one of the first to be offered in this country). While pursuing his career as a photograph and teacher, Rosenblum supplemented his income by doing freelance work for major art galleries, collectors and artists in the New York City area between 1945 and 1962. The Rosenblum Collection, acquired in 1976 through a transfer from the Archives of American Art, reflects the art of his time and is particularly strong in American and European avant-garde, surreal and abstract works.
American Sculpture Photograph Study Collection
The American Sculpture Photograph Study Collection comprises 2,600 photographic prints of American sculpture from the 1890s to 1940. The photographs were originally assembled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for study purposes from various fine arts photographers and publishers. This specialized resource provides in-depth visual documentation of the work of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century sculptors, including Robert Aitken, Daniel Chester French, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Evelyn Beatrice Longman, Paul Manship, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This collection was acquired by the Photograph Archives in 2005 to enhance its resources for the study of American sculpture.
Library of Congress Copyright Deposit Collection
Finding aids are available upon request for most collections. For further information about our holdings, contact us at: