Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art

Bibliothèque de l’INHA – Collections Jacque Doucet

Location: Paris, France
Photographs: 750,000
Website | Online catalogue 

The Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) is a public institution responsible for developing academic activity and contributing to international academic cooperation in the fields of art history and heritage. As a national and international centre for teaching and research, it produces databases and organizes conferences and seminars, as well as presenting exhibitions and maintaining a publishing activity (monographs and an academic journal, Perspective. It is organized around two main departments, which closely collaborate : Research and Library.

The Bibliothèque de l’INHA – Collections Jacques Doucet is the direct heir of the Bibliothèque d’Art et d’Archéologie, created by Jacques Doucet in 1908 and which became the art library of the University of Paris in 1918. In 2003, the library became part of the newly founded INHA. It is the largest research library in the country for art and history of art, and holds extensive collections of modern monographs and journals, along vast bodies original documents: archives, manuscripts, prints, drawings, antiquarian books, and photographs.

The idea of a photo archive was an integral part of the original project of the library. When Doucet gave it to the University of Paris (1918), about 130,000 photographic prints had already been gathered and were freely accessible to students, researchers, artists and craftsmen. The collection was progressively enlarged by the addition of photographs coming from the archives donated to the library by various scholars, collectors and galleries. The Photothèque is organised in seven major categories: Archaeology, Architecture, Decorative arts, Drawings, Illuminated manuscripts, Paintings, Sculpture.

Two major collections have recently ben acquired by the library: what could be salvaged of the Photothèque de la faculté des lettres de Paris (about 26,800 prints and positive plates from 1850s to 1950s) and the photographic stock of the Agence Giraudon (about 350,000 negatives from 1880s to 1990s), given by Bridgeman Art Library in 2006.

Today, the photo archive comprises approximately 750,000 original photographic pictures of monuments, works of art and archaeological objects from Antiquity to 20th century in Europe, North Africa and Asia (original positives and negatives on paper, glass or film, though mainly on paper, dating from 1850s to 1980s).