Photographic survey boxes

The Photographic Survey

Update October 2022 

Due to the closure of our Somerset House spaces there is currently no access to the Photographic Survey.

The Photographic Survey has been in existence since the early 1950s. It was founded in conjunction with the Frick Art Reference Library in New York in order to record the works of art in private collections in England, Wales and Ireland and to make their existence known to scholars.

The majority of items from the survey are not available for publication due to copyright restrictions. If you have any questions regarding reproducing images from the survey, please contact us at:

Where is the survey kept?

The photographs are housed with the Witt Library and the Conway Library at Somerset House, and prints are available for study in the libraries of many universities and galleries in Europe and the United States. Well over 500 collections have been photographed, and the work of the Photographic Survey provides an invaluable resource for scholars and students of art history.

What was recorded?

The majority of collections recorded by the Photographic Survey are those in country houses, with large numbers of portraits and Old Master paintings. Most of the photographs are of paintings, drawings and watercolours, but sculpture, architecture and architectural drawings are also included in the Photographic Survey.

Copies of all photographs of paintings, drawings and sculptures are filed under the artists’ names or relevant section in the Witt Library and the Conway Library.

Chatsworth main staircase
Chatsworth House by Martin Hartland from UK, CC BY 2.0