The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives is a manuscript and photograph repository dedicated to furthering the study of Asian and Middle Eastern art, archaeology and culture as well as turn-of-the-century American art. Our mission is to collect, preserve, organize, describe, and make available documentary materials that support the holdings and activities of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Archives houses over one hundred and forty collections, amounting to over one thousand linear feet. We have over 2462 images online and are adding more daily.
Archives manuscript collections date from the early nineteenth century to the present and include the papers and records of collectors, dealers, scholars and archaeologists; making the Archives a critical repository for the study of the advent and development of Asian art scholarship and appreciation in America. Our photography holdings are particularly strong in mid to late 19th century views of Asia, and consist of important works by both western and native photographers and studios. Photographs and other visual documents from the Archives have been featured in numerous galleries exhibitions.
If you have questions or wish to make a research appointment, please call 202-633-0533 or email AVRreference@si.edu.Browse Images by Individual: [Art collector] [Researchers] [Nobility] [Photographer]
An important figure in the early photography of India, Impey was one of a number of British military officers to take up that medium in the 1850's-1860's. The Archives has two personal photo albums of Impey and his family containing portraits of British residents in India.. There are also images of various Indian peoples, a still life of game birds, a panoramic view supposedly of ruins after the Mutiny, and architectural images. Some photographs were taken by Impey’s brother, Captain Henry Dixon as well as other unidentified amateur photographers of the late 1850's and early 1860's. Also included are still photographs from the 1870's and 1880's by commercial studios such as Scowen & Company and Woodbury & Page of Sri Lanka and Java respectively.
The papers of John Calvin Ferguson (1866-1945), an advisor to the Executive Yuan of the National Government of China, document his life and collecting that began during the turbulent period of the Boxer Rebellion in turn-of-the century China. We are working on digitizing and cataloging the collection’s still prints and four photograph albums, 1890-1937, portraying Ferguson, his wife and family, Chinese officials, members of the Treaty Commission, landscape painting by T'ang Tai (1637-?), and works of Chinese art given to the University of Nanking which he founded.
Photographic portraits of Freer Gallery of Art founder Charles Lang Freer taken by Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Alvin Langdon Coburn; also includes photographs that Freer acquired during his travels such as important albums of photographs of Sri Lanka. We are currently working on getting these images digitized and cataloged.
Collectors of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century photography of Japan. The collection contains albumen prints, many with hand coloring, as well as two intact albums. Photographers represented are Felice Beato, Baron Raimon von Stillfried, Kusakabe Kimbei, Ueno Hikoma, Uchida Kuichi, and other photographers known and unknown. Subjects include architecture, landscapes, formal studio portraits, samurai, and people in daily activities.
The images focus on Bishop's Gallery-sponsored travels to China, 1923 to 1927 and from 1929-1934, while acting as Associate Curator at the Freer Gallery of Art. The collection includes textual material as well as approximately 10,000 photographs, negatives, maps, line drawings, rubbings and postcards.
Archaeologist, art historian, and architect, Herzfeld excavated pre-Islamic and early Islamic sites. The collection is organized into seven series: Series 1: Travel journals; Series 2: sketchbooks; Series 3: Notebooks; Series 4: Photographic files 1-42; Series 5: Drawings and maps; Series 6: Squeezes; and Series 7: Samarra Expedition. We are currently working to digitize and catalog the entirety of this collection with the generous help of the Leon Levy Foundation.
An assembled ethnographic study collection from photographs taken by British photographers in India. The collection documents the castes and culture groups of India for a British India Office multi-volume publication.
This collection of images consists of the field journals and maps created by A.G. Wenley when he accompanied Carl Whiting Bishop on his archaeological expedition to China on behalf of the Freer Gallery from 1924-1926. The digitized journals are typewritten, with photographs and captions depicting the different sites Wenley visited. There are also duplicate copies with annotations on several of the entries.
This collection contains glass plate negatives depicting the Empress Dowager of China, Cixi (1835-1908) and her attendants, mostly photographed from 1903 to 1905 by Xunling (1874-1943). Scenes include the Empress Dowager on the imperial barge, in the Summer Palace with attendants, and individual portraits in varieties of court attire. Other important figures of the royal court depicted are Empress Longyu (1868-1913), Jinfei (1874–1924), Princess Der Ling (1885-1944), Lady Rongling (1882-1973), first chief eunuch Li Lianying (1848-1911), and second chief eunuch Cui Yugui.
A collection of photographs and photographic albums obtained by Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, when she accompanied the Taft Mission to Asia in the summer of 1905. This collection includes several albums chronicling the mission. Also featured are the imperial photographic portraits given to Alice at formal audiences, including a portrait of the Empress Dowager Cixi, two signed photographic portraits of the Meiji Emperor and Empress in elaborately carved frames, and one each of the King and Crown Prince of Korea. We are currently working on digitizing and cataloging this collection.
Collectors of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century photography of Japan. This collection includes: albumen prints with hand coloring. Taken by photographers Felice Beato, Baron Raimond von Stillfried, Kusakabe Kimbei , and unknown photographers to depict architecture, landscapes, formal studio portraits, samurai, and people in poses and in daily activities.
We are currently working on getting these images into the catalog. For now, please see our Finding Aid, which does have the images available.
Achieved recognition for his coverage of British political conflicts, photographing the Crimean War of 1855 and, together with his brother-in-law, James Robertson, the 1858 Indian Mutiny in Delhi and Lucknow. After moving to Yokohama in 1863, Beato opened the area’s first photography studio and documented the people and culture of Japan for the next twenty years, taking photographs and selling them to tourists.
Moved to Yokohama in 1859. Although unclear, Kusakabe apprenticed under either Felice Beato and/or Raimond von Stillfried. Kusakabe managed a studio in Yokohama, first at Bentendori until 1881, then later at Honcho. His photo studio was well received by many, including foreigners.
The firm of Shepherd and Robertson appears to have started trading in Agra in about 1862, moving to Simla in 1864, later changing to Bourne and Shepherd.
American stereographic company. In 1880, the brothers Elmer (1860-1947) and Bert (1862-1943) Underwood founded a firm in Ottowa, Kansas, to distribute stereos by Charles Bierstadt, the Littleton View Co., and J. F. Jarvis. The head office moved to New York in 1891, and the firm began buying and making as well as distributing pictures; by 1901 it was producing 25,000 stereos a day and 300,000 stereoscopes a year.
(c 1880-1943) Chinese photographer. The son of diplomatic minister to Japan and France, Xunling learned photography abroad. In 1903-04 he was commissioned to create a series of photographs of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) and her court. Photographs include portraits of the Empress Dowager alone, as well as with her ladies and eunuchs.