Paul Mellon’s founding gifts to the Yale Center for British Art included important early nineteenth-century publications illustrated with some of the first paper-print photographs ever made. These publications served as the core of a small and somewhat miscellaneous collection of photographs, which grew very slowly over time. In recent years, however, through a combination of important purchases and major gifts, the Center’s photographic collection has developed into a serious representation of this important aspect of Britain’s visual culture.
Photographs | Contemporary Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions shows the depth and richness of the expanding photography collection, from the birth of photography, with calotypes by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) and Calvert Richard Jones (1802–1877), to the work of contemporary photographers, such as Martin Parr (b. 1952) and Anna Fox (b. 1961). The display celebrates the extraordinary gifts of Graham Howe, Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Isaacs Sr., Dr. J. Patrick and Patricia Kennedy, Hans Kraus Jr., and others who have enabled the Center to take this major step forward.