National Gallery of Art

Washington, D.C.



Photographs from the Collection at the National Gallery of Art


Recent acquisitions of photography by celebrated artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will be on view, many for the first time, in the exhibition Photographs from the Collection at the National Gallery of Art, East Building, April 25 through July 5, 1999. Approximately seventy works reveal the remarkable ability of gifted artists such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eugène Atget, Charles Sheeler, André Kertész, and others to transform the recognizable, known, and commonplace into something new and unfamiliar.

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art and is made possible by The Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

"Since 1983 the National Gallery has presented a series of monographic exhibitions honoring the work of some of America's most celebrated photographers. We are extremely grateful to The Circle for making possible this current exhibition of recent acquisitions, which features some of the most eloquent images the medium has ever seen," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art.

Other nineteenth-century photographers represented in the exhibition include Eugène Cuvelier, Franc Chauvassaignes, Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond, Robert Howlett, Charles-Victor Hugo with Auguste Vacquerie, Gustave Le Gray, John Moran, Nadar, and Carleton E. Watkins. There are also works by twentieth-century photographers Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Ilse Bing, Bill Brandt, Harry Callahan, Roy DeCarava, Robert Frank, Lázló Moholy-Nagy, August Sander, David Smith, Frederick Sommer, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically with the first room devoted to nineteenth-century portraits and landscapes; the second room featuring the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s; and the third gallery showing twentieth-century and contemporary works. The exhibition has been organized by Sarah Greenough, curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art.


The Collection

Today (1999) the National Gallery's collection of approximately 2,500 photographs encompasses the history of the medium from its beginnings in 1839, concentrating on the finest examples by masters of this medium. In 1949, artist Georgia O'Keeffe donated the key set of 1,270 photographs made by her husband Alfred Stieglitz, who had died three years previously. O'Keeffe gave the Gallery 330 more photographic masterpieces in 1980, making the Gallery's Alfred Stieglitz Collection of 1,600 photographs the most complete and finest holding of his work in existence.

Between 1990 and 1994 the Gallery began to expand its photography collection by acquiring the work of key photographers in depth. Since then, significant gifts of outstanding photographs by Walker Evans, Paul Strand, and Robert Frank have been added to the collection. In 1995 the first nineteenth-century works were added to the collection as well as additional twentieth-century masterpieces. Over the past four years more than 250 photographs have been acquired, including works by more than twenty-five artists not previously represented in the collection.


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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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