Alvin Langdon Coburn, Vortograph, 1917, gelatin silver print, © The Universal Order

Yale Center for British Art welcomes an exceptional gift of photography from Joy of Giving Something Inc.

Nearly 1,400 British photographs from the nineteenth century to the present day transform the Center’s growing collection.

NEW HAVEN, CT (April 3, 2019) — The Yale Center for British Art gratefully accepts a generous gift of nearly 1,400 photographs from Joy of Giving Something Inc. (JGS). The donation dramatically expands the Center’s photographic collections, which range from works by the earliest practitioners of photography to some of the most celebrated contemporary artists working in the UK today.

“We are deeply gratified by this magnificent gift from the Joy of Giving Something. As I near the end of my time as director of the Yale Center for British Art, I am proud to leave behind a collection that reflects Britain’s critical role in photographic history and that will serve to educate, challenge, and delight generations of students and scholars, as well as the broader public,” said Amy Meyers.

The earliest work in the gift is a salted paper print of Orleans Cathedral made by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1843, a mere four years after the acknowledged birth of photography in 1839. Other pioneering Victorian photographers represented include Horatio Ross, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, John Murray, Roger Fenton, Charles Clifford, Linneaus Tripe, Thomas Annan, Eadweard Muybridge, and Samuel Bourne, many of whom have been featured in past exhibitions at the Center.

Highlights from recent years include stunning images produced by Susan Derges and Adam Fuss — both wizards of contemporary cameraless photography. Other key figures in British photography today include Jem Southam, Peter Fraser, Simon Norfolk, Chris Killip, and Martin Parr, whose major retrospective is now on view at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Groundbreaking anatomical self-portraits by John Coplans are revealed in all their abstract glory, alongside a feminist exploration of in vitro fertilization by the multidisciplinary artist Helen Chadwick. These are accompanied by abundant groups of pictures by Bill Jay, Michael Kenna, and Neeta Madahar, which bring substance and texture to this wide-ranging donation.

Indeed, the expansive nature of the gift reflects the collecting practices of JGS founder, Howard Stein. Stein began acquiring photographs in the 1980s, eventually forming one of the most comprehensive collections in private hands, spanning the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries. Devoted to the field of photography and ever on the search for its very best practitioners, Stein never limited himself to a single genre or style. His understanding of the photographic medium and discerning eye for print quality and condition yielded a remarkable collection shared through exhibition loans around the world.

Chitra Ramalingam, Associate Curator of Photography, and Acting Head of Prints and Drawings, said, “As the first dedicated curator of photography at the Center, it has been so thrilling to work with my colleagues on expanding our British photography collection, building on its existing strengths, as established by Paul Mellon, but also taking it in new directions that explore the complexity of what photography and Britishness are understood to be. We’re deeply indebted to our director, Amy Meyers, for her vision and commitment to the history of photography, and to our donors who support us in realizing that vision.

”While photographs have always been present in the collection, the Center has in recent years received a significant number of substantial gifts from collectors, gallerists, and artists themselves. Among the most recent supporters of the initiative are Parnassus Foundation, courtesy of Jane and Raphael Bernstein; Ellen Carey; Michael Childers; Henry S. Hacker, Yale BA 1965; Graham Howe; The Hyman Collection, London (Claire and James Hyman); Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro; Patrick and Patricia Kennedy; Hans P. Kraus Jr.; Mildred B. and Keith C. Marshall, Yale BA 1968; Richard S. and Jeanne Press; and Ralph and Nancy Segall.

About Joy of Giving Something Inc.

Joy of Giving Something Inc. (JGS) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the photographic arts and supporting artists and arts education. Working in partnership with museums, schools, and community organizations, JGS supports high quality visual arts programs for middle and high school aged youth in underserved communities across New York City and beyond. JGS provides equipment grants, technical assistance, and professional development opportunities for educators. JGS also sponsors scholarships for students pursuing postsecondary degrees in photography and media arts.

About the Yale Center for British Art

The Center is a museum that houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, encompassing works in a range of media from the fifteenth century to the present. It offers exhibitions and programs year-round, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, and family events. Opened to the public in 1977, the Center’s core collection and landmark building—designed by architect Louis I. Kahn—were a gift to Yale University from the collector and philanthropist Paul Mellon. It is free and open to all. Visit the Center online at, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @yalebritishart.

Media kit

Download our entire suite of documents and images related to this gift.