Photographic Archive [1855 ca. - present]

The Photographic Archive of the British School at Rome includes over 100,000 items which are testimony to the evolution of processing techniques since the birth of Photography in 1839. A number of unique collections of 19th century photographs found their way into the BSR and out of these the Archive grew to include later collections, which document the research and activities of the BSR up to the present day.

A broad range of subjects is covered and make these collections of invaluable importance for research in the humanities, art history, architecture, visual studies and many other related disciplines. Topics concerned are Italian and North African archaeology and topography, ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman art, in particular sculpture, and European medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. Collections of images relating to BSR events and activities, and the work of BSR Fine Art Fellows, have also been accurately preserved.

The photographic material was assembled and acquired thanks to the generous donations of former BSR Directors, Assistant Directors, Librarians or presented to the BSR by individuals in order to broaden and enrich the institutional resources for academic research.
The uniqueness of the BSR photographic holdings lies not only in the importance of the many and various collections which found their home in Rome throughout the years, but also in the nodes and relationships arising from their ownership and provenance. From the second half of the 19th Century with collections of master photographers and pioneering publishers - James Graham Collection (c. 1855), Robert MacPherson Collection (1854-1868), John-Henry Parker Collection (1865–79) - to the years marking the beginning of amateurial experiences - Peter Paul Mackey Collection (1890-1910), Thomas Ashby Collection (1890-1925), Dora & Agnes Bulwer Collection (1890-c.1930?), John William Cruickshank Collection (1892-1918), Robert Gardner Collection (1912-13).
Looking at the 20th Century and at the origins of more complex bodies of archival holdings, photographic materials to consider noteworthy belong to the Eugenie Strong Collection (1900-c. 1930), the John Marshall Collection (1900-28), the Lantern slides Collection (1901-1950?) and the John Bryan Ward-Perkins Collection (1946-74).

A short description to each collection is provided on the BSR website.

The Photographic Archive also encourages collaboration and discussion between other Archives, thus creating in the BSR a forum for discussion, lectures, courses, exhibitions and collaborative projects.

The increase in activities and events relating to the Photographic Archive was triggered in 2002 by a generous three-year grant from The Getty Foundation which funded the cataloguing and organization of three 19th century collections of photographs. A second two-year grant from The Getty Foundation in 2007 funded the cataloguing and organization of part of the J.B. Ward-Perkins collection. Other private individuals, sponsors and institutions have contributed to the enhancement of this extraordinary digital patrimony and we wish to thank the generosity and support of: Peter Brown, BSR Honorary Fellow (2008, 2010, 2012-2014); Università del Salento (2011-13); Peter and Ann Wiseman (2012-2014); and Jim and Angela Ball, BSR Ashby Society members (2013-2014).

All low resolution images on the BSR Library and Archive Digital Collections website may be downloaded and freely used for educational and scholarly purposes.

Please always include the credit line: British School at Rome Digital Collections.

Requests for high resolution images must be sent to

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