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Link back to series home page.Graphic header: Explore Photographic Archives
The J. Paul Getty Museum

Beatrice, 1866
Photographer: Julia Margaret Cameron
Albumen print
Courtesy The J. Paul Getty Museum

 

Our choices (in acquisition) are guided by an understanding of the photographers who continuously exceed our expectations and who surprise and delight us by revealing unexpected facets that surface as forgotten work comes to light. In setting priorities, we look carefully at the biography of the photographer and the process by which an individual style evolved over time. We tend to value most those photographers who had long and productive careers over those with brief by meteoric ones, although it cannot be ignored that some of the greatest names in the pantheon of photography, especially in the last century, worked at their art for a decade or less...

Weston Naef, Curator of Photographs

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts and the humanities that includes an art museum as well as programs for education, scholarship, and conservation.

Early in 1984 the Getty Museum purchased several of the largest and best private collections of photographs in the world. In making this acquisition the Museum received, among others, the collections of Samuel Wagstaff, Arnold Crane, Volker Kahmen/Georg Heusch, and Bruno Bischofberger. With these acquisitions the Department of Photographs was formed as the Getty's newest curatorial department, and the only one with works from the twentieth century.

By the mid-1980s the collection included 25,000 individual prints by 1500 different photographers ranging in date from the 1830s to the 1960s, thousands of daguerreotypes, and about 30,000 stereographs and cartes-de-visite, and photographs, books and albums. While maintaining a comprehensive collection, the department concentrates on securing works by master photographers. It is especially rich in examples dating from the early 1840s, including major holdings by William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, and Hippolyte Bayard. Since 1984 the department has concentrated on photographs produced by masters of the first half of this century including images by Alfred Stieglitz, Gertrude Käsebier, Paul Strand, Doris Ulmann, Edward Weston, and Frederick Sommer.

 

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