Art and the Early Photographic Album Stephen Bann

Studies in the History of Art Series
Publication date:
26 Apr 2011
NGW-Stud Hist Art
288 pages: 279 x 229mm
131 color + 63 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


One of the most prized categories of early photography was the reproduction of artworks, a role in which photographs largely replaced engravings in book imagery during the mid-19th century. Photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other works were compiled in albums, ranging from surveys of museum collections and catalogues of works by single artists to illustrated travel guides and archaeological reports. While such albums have often been valued for documentary purposes, their broader role in the institutional development of art has, until now, been overlooked. The first book on the subject, this collection of twelve essays explores topics such as how the acclaim of artists like Rubens grew because their paintings reproduced so well in photographs, how Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes were given a new public identity by the photographer's choice of striking details never explored in traditional prints, and other important ways in which photographically illustrated publications influenced the experience and the history of art.

Stephen Bann is Emeritus Professor of History of Art and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol in the UK.

"Bann has edited with exemplary scholarship a set of essays that do ample justice to a complex theme. The volume succeeds fully in its aim of pinning down the role of the photographic album… as a vector for promoting… art… Yale University Press has produced a high quality publication, impeccably printed with full colour images throughout." Steven F. Joseph, History of Photography, Volume 36, No. 3

Page spreads