Courtauld Image Libraries - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Courtauld Image Libraries

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Courtauld Image Libraries – Closed

The Courtauld’s image libraries at Somerset House are currently closed. The Courtauld is exploring how we can provide access to these collections while maintaining the safety of our visitors, students and staff. We do not anticipate reopening until Autumn 2020. If the present guidelines remain in place when we reopen, users will only be able to view the collections by appointment. Users will not be able to browse the collections and will need to request the materials they wish to see in advance. We will share more information about our reopening plans through our web pages as soon as possible.

Library staff have no access to the image libraries at this time but will do our best to answer enquiries sent to witt.conway@courtauld.ac.uk

The Courtauld’s photographic libraries are an internationally significant resource of over three million images covering Western painting, drawing and printmaking, world architecture, architectural drawings, sculpture, decorative arts and manuscripts.

The two main collections, known as the Witt and Conway libraries, are named after their founders, Sir Robert Witt and Martin Conway, 1st Baron Conway of Allington

Used as a reference and research resource for scholars and the commercial world for decades, our world-famous libraries have facilitated research into provenance and attribution as well as wider applications to art history and conservation – playing a significant role in the development of the history of art and architecture in the UK and beyond.

The Witt Library

The Witt is the largest of the two main collections, and consists of photographs, reproductions and cuttings of paintings, drawings and engravings of western art from 1200 to the present day, organised into national “schools”. Comprising around 2,152,000 images in over 19,000 boxes, and occupying 1.3km of shelving, it is believed to be the largest of its type in the UK and the third largest in the world.  

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The Conway Library

The Conway contains over one million images: photographs and cuttings of world architecture, architectural drawings and publications, sculpture (approximately 10,000 sculptors are represented), ivories, seals, metalwork, manuscript illumination, stained glass, wall paintings, panel paintings and textiles. 

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Volunteer Programme

Our community of volunteers come from all walks of life and we provide an open-minded, positive and safe space where everyone is treated with respect, acceptance and gratitude.

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The Slide Library

This collection contains more than 200,000 slides covering a range of subjects from painting, sculpture and architecture to illuminated manuscripts, prints and decorative arts.

It also includes videos of art historical interest, including films about individual artists, techniques and museums as well as feature films with art historical themes. There is currently a programme of digitisation underway to give students access to high-quality digital images for research.

The Photographic Survey

The Photographic Survey records the works of art in private collections in England, Wales and Ireland and to make their existence known to scholars.

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Art & Architecture

The Courtauld's collections of paintings and drawings are available as more than 41,000 digital images on Art & Architecture, a Lottery-funded website.

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