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Blog: Yevonde Colour Archive

12201219490?profile=originalThe National Portrait Gallery has acquired its most significant colour archive by a woman photographer to date. In 2021, the Gallery purchased the tri-colour separation negatives of Yevonde (1893-1975), making an important commitment to study and celebrate her pioneering work of the 1930s. 

Read the full blog here:

Image: NPG x220001 Olga Burnett as Persephone, 1935

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12201233465?profile=originalIn 1969 and 1970 a revolution took place in the pages of Architectural Review. An ambitious survey of architecture and town planning in late 1960s Britain, called Manplan, used photographic work by leading photojournalists and street photographers to powerfully articulate the theme of each issue.

Although photography had been integral to Architectural Review since the 1930s, the images that defined Manplan were like nothing that had been seen in the magazine before. The dramatic black and white images, shot on a 35mm camera with a spirit of photo-reportage, created a strong visual statement to support the text of each edition, with themes such as 'Religion', 'Health and welfare', 'Frustration' and 'Education'.

Unusually for the time, people were shown front and centre in the built environment – shifting the focus away from the architecture itself to the way people lived and used the social spaces being studied.

Over eight issues of Architectural Review, the overall message of Manplan was powerful, uncompromising and highly critical of contemporary living conditions. Many of the themes highlighted by the series are still relevant today.

The exhibition A Brief Revolution features works by photographers Ian Berry, Patrick Ward, Tim Street-Porter and Tony Ray-Jones, and the words and designs of Manplan editor Tim Rock and designers Michael Reid and Peter Baistow.

The exhibition is realised in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and curated by Valeria Carullo, curator, The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, RIBA British Architectural Library. An expanded version of the exhibition will open at the Royal Institute of British Architects in September 2023, featuring c.80 of the original photographs commissioned by the Architectural Review in 1969-70. 

The photographs are part of the archive of the Architectural Press, former publishers of the Architectural Review, acquired by the RIBA in 2004.

A Brief Revolution: photography, architecture and social space in the Manplan project
The Photographers' Gallery, London
until 11 June 2023

an expanded version of the exhibition opens at RIBA in September 2023. 

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12201218870?profile=originalThe latest number of The Classic, the magazine about fine classic photography, is now available in printed form from selected outlets and for free download. It includes features on the Leitz auction house photography specialist; Michael Hoppen Gallery; Conservator Nicholas Burnett's personal collection of photographic processes, Toronto's Image Centre; and more. 

Download here:

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12201220673?profile=originalThe British Library is looking to recruit a full-time Cataloguer of Photographs. This exciting new opportunity is part of the Library’s Hidden Collections initiative to increase access to the 19th and 20th century British and global photographic collections. Working with one of the world’s major collections of historic photographs, this is a rare and exciting opportunity to help make these specialist collections discoverable for research, innovation, and enjoyment, for wider dissemination and re-use. The post holder will work on important photographic collections including works by Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823-1911) and his wife Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn (1834-1926), photographic negatives by travel writer Robert Byron (1905-1941), as well as the photographic collections of Michael Katakis (b. 1952).

Tasks will include sorting, appraising and describing materials to professional national and international cataloguing standards, as well as assessing conservation needs, identifying potential data protection issues and finding long-term preservation solutions for storage of the material. The role will involve working with the BL's important photographic collections, with the opportunity to contribute to the outreach programme through blog posts, social media and other activities.

We are looking for someone who has experience in cataloguing 19th century photographs and the ability to identify early printing processes. To be successful in this role you have experience of handling historic photographic collections, be technically proficient, have the ability to make sound and timely cataloguing decisions as well as be able to work independently and in a team environment.

As one of the world’s great libraries, our duty is to preserve the nation’s intellectual memory for the future and make it available to all for research, inspiration and enjoyment. At present we have well over 170 million items, in most known languages, with three million new items added every year. We have manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents. We make our collections and programmes available to all. We operate the world’s largest document delivery service providing millions of items a year to customers all over the world. What matters to us is that we preserve the national memory and enable knowledge to be created both now and in the future by anyone, anywhere.

In return we offer a competitive salary and a number of excellent benefits.  Our pension scheme is one of the most valuable benefits we offer, as our staff can become members of the Alpha Pension Scheme where the Library contributes a minimum of 26.6% (this may be higher dependent on grade. Another significant benefit the Library provides is the provision of a flexible working hours scheme which could allow you to work your hours flexibly over the week and to take up to 5 days flexi leave in a 3 month period. This is on top of 25 days holiday from entry and public and privilege holidays.

Full Time, Fixed Term for 18 months

For further information and to apply, please visit quoting vacancy ref: 04502 or Vacancy Details (

Closing date:  12 April 2023

Interview date: 25/26 April 2023

We are unable to provide sponsorship under the UK Skilled Worker visa for this role, as it does not meet the eligibility criteria required for this immigration route.

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12201218083?profile=originalCurator David F. Martin will discuss the work and international achievements of Issei photographers active in Seattle, Washington, in the early 20th century.

He will focus primarily on Soichi Sunami (1885-1971) whose artistic career began in Seattle and continued after he relocated to New York where he became the chief photographer for the Museum of Modern Art. Sunami’s main interest was dance photography and his subjects included Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and other iconic dancers of the period.

The Seattle Camera Club was founded in 1924 and held their first exhibition the following year. They became internationally recognized for their artistic or “Pictorialist” work as a group as well as individually. The key members of SCC were Hiromu Kira (1898–1991), Dr. Kyo Koike (1878–1947), Frank Asakichi Kunishige (1878–1960), and Yukio Morinaga (1888–1968). They exhibited in most of the prestigious international salons of the period, winning awards and having their work reproduced in important photographic publications and catalogues. The SCC became so well known that individual members ranked among the most exhibited photographers in North America.

With the exception of Sunami who was living on the east coast during WWII, the Seattle Issei photographers were interned at the Minidoka relocation centre (concentration camp) which collectively ended their artistic careers.

Pictorialist Photography: Soichi Sunami and his Issei Contemporaries
Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle (entrance facing Regent's Park), London NW1 4QP
Wednesday 26 April 2023
6:00pm – 7:00pm, with drinks reception: 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Details and booking:

Image: Martha Graham in Lamentation, 1930, Gelatin silver print; Soichi Sunami (1885-1971); Courtesy of the Sunami Family

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County Durham photographers in 1888

12201230453?profile=originalA friend from Sunderland has given me an album of thirty cartes de visite assembled in 1888.  The  eleven photographers whose work is represented were located in small towns throughout County Durham. The majority were in Sunderland, probably because this was the county's largest town and a major sea port.  One picture stands out from the rest in that the pose is more natural, with the subject seemingly unaware of being photographed, in contrast to the hard stares of most of the others in the album. This picture was taken by Madame Brunner, presumably Clementina Brunner nee Grant, 1833 - 1887.  On the back she describes herself as a "Pupil of Mayall Photographer to the Queen" .  Her address, 32 Fawcett Street, places her in the centre of the town's most important commercial street.   She was clearly not only a pioneering lady photographer but also one who had a very distinct style and a confident approach to the business aspect of her work.


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12201232861?profile=originalI hope someone here might be able to help. I’m seeking information about the Photographic Information Council, which seems to have existed as a photographic industry promotional body in Britain between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. The Photographic Information Council produced leaflets, organised competitions (including the Junior Photographer of the Year prize) and wrote articles for local and national newspapers promoting photography and giving advice to novices.

They seem to have been based at two London addresses: Wardrobe House, Wardrobe Place, London EC4 and 140 Park Lane, London W1Y 4EL. Contributing writers / representatives include George Hughes, Howard S. Cotton, Robin Bowles, Harry Challoner, Michael Geraghty and Kenneth G. Pope.

Was anyone here a member or know anyone who was? Does anyone have any of their leaflets? I’m particularly interested their promotion of photography for school children. Were you a Junior Photographer competition winner or entrant? Please get in touch if so!

With thanks,

Annebella Pollen, Professor of Visual and Material Culture, University of Brighton. E:

Image: the new PIC trophy introduced in 1971 for its Young Photographer of the Year competition, boys' open class

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12201229876?profile=originalRecent challenges such as the climate crisis have pushed the field to consider how photography shapes and is shaped by the environment. From the mining of natural resources to the effects of mass digital storage, the environmental impact of photography is at the forefront of discussions in photography research, education and practice. In this conference, speakers will reconsider the history of photography using the environment, broadly understood, as a departing point. What kind of histories can be written about photography in its environment? Would it be useful to understand photography as an environment? Papers will not only examine photography from the point of view of current environmental concerns, but also, how photographic practices, images and archives have developed in relation to natural, industrial and other environments. By centering the environment as an analytical category, we hope to discuss the ways in which natural, colonial, personal, digital and other types of environments have shaped photography as well as how photographic histories can help to understand environmental histories.

Conference: Photography in its environment
Leicester: Photographic History Research Centre
12-13 June 2023
Hybrid (in person and online)
Registration is now open here:

Image:  Mark Kasumovic, Skipsea #2, inkjet print, 50 x 60 in, 2020

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12201228252?profile=originalI have a collection of portfolios with photographs by J.F. Langhans.  Each portfolio containsa a group of photographs mounted, with both type and hand written notes, embossed with National Art Library, mostly ecclesiastical garments.  I received confirmation from V&A Museum that they were once part of their collection.  They still have a portfolio of the Iron Work as part of Industrial Arts.  A curator from V&A suggested I reach out to this group and tap into the great knowledge coming from the group.  I have also spoken to the organization, but they had little information on these.

Any information about J.F. Langhans or the other industrial art works that were covered in the commissioned work of King Edward VII, would be greatly appreciated.12201228098?profile=original

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Job: Assistant Curator of Photographs

12201231869?profile=originalThe J. Paul Getty Museum seeks an Assistant Curator of Photographs to become a vital member of a team working with one of the foremost collections of photographs in the United States. The Assistant Curator will play an instrumental role in supporting the collection and its many audiences through acquisitions, exhibitions, original research, and innovative interpretation. The Department of Photographs is committed to developing programming that is engaging and meaningful to diverse audiences. The successful candidate will bring creative ideas and fresh perspectives to developing and interpreting the collection, key attributes for our ongoing work to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, both through our internal work and our public-facing programs. Under moderate supervision, the Assistant Curator will help develop the collection particularly in the area of European nineteenth-century photography, with an emphasis on the early history of the medium in France and England, maintaining and managing it in collaboration with colleagues and under the direction of the Senior Curator.

The Assistant Curator will contribute to the ongoing work of cataloguing the collection for the museum website, including doing research, updating information, and writing descriptions of individual objects.  The ideal candidate will be a highly motivated person with exceptional organizational skills and experience managing projects in an iterative, fast-paced environment. A natural consensus-builder, the candidate understands how to collaborate successfully in a team with other curators in the department, as well as with colleagues across the campus, including Conservation, Design, Exhibitions, Education, Interpretive Content, Communications, Imaging Services, Preparators, and Registrars.

Details are here

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12201228898?profile=originalThe first major exhibition as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s reopening on 22 June will showcase the ground-breaking work of 20th century British photographer, Yevonde. Supported by the CHANEL Culture Fund, the exhibition will include new prints and discoveries, revealed by the latest research on Yevonde’s colour negative archive, acquired by the Gallery in 2021.

Over 25 newly discovered photographs by Yevonde, a pioneer of colour photography in the 1930s, will go on show for the first time when the National Portrait Gallery reopens to visitors, in the largest exhibition of the artist’s work. With over 150 works displayed, Yevonde: Life and Colour (22 June – 15 October 2023), supported by the CHANEL Culture Fund, will survey the portraits, commercial commissioned work and still lives that the artist produced throughout her sixty year career. Showcasing photographs of some of the most famous faces of the time – from George Bernard Shaw to Vivien Leigh, and John Gielgud to Princess Alexandra – the exhibition positions Yevonde as a trailblazer in the history of British portrait photography.

Reflecting the growing independence of women after the First World War, this exhibition will focus on the freedom photography afforded Yevonde, who became an innovator in new techniques, experimenting with solarisation and the Vivex colour process. The exhibition is the first to open as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s 2023 programme, following the largest redevelopment in its history.

Yevonde Middleton, known as Madame Yevonde or simply Yevonde (1893-1975), was a successful London-based photographer whose work focused on portraits and still life throughout much of the twentieth century. She was introduced to photography as a career through her involvement with the suffragette cause. As an innovator committed to colour photography when it was not considered a serious medium, Yevonde’s oeuvre is significant in the history of British photography.

In 2021, Yevonde’s tri-colour separation negative archive was acquired by the Gallery through funding from The Portrait Fund. Following extensive research, cataloguing and digitisation, funded by CHANEL Culture Fund, stunning new discoveries have been uncovered. Revealed for the first time in this new exhibition, they showcase the range of sitters and subjects that Yevonde photographed in colour – from glamorous debutantes and the royal family to leading writers, artists and film stars.

The vibrant colour portrait of one of the most photographed women in the 1930s, socialite Margaret Sweeny (1938), will be shown for the first time. Later, in 1963, as Duchess of Argyll, Margaret gained notoriety through a high-profile divorce. The scandal was recently dramatised in the 2021 award-winning BBC series A Very British Scandal, with Margaret portrayed by Claire Foy. The exhibition will also feature a new colour print of the portrait of Surrealist patron and poet, Edward James, 1933, used on the cover of his 1938 volume of poetry The Bones of My Hand. Yevonde’s still life often integrated elements of Surrealist iconography and she referenced the work of Man Ray in her own portraits.

The exhibition will explore Yevonde’s life and career through self-portraiture and autobiography, contextualising her work within the productive days of creative modernist photography. To this end, a previously unseen self-portrait in vivid Vivex tricolour from 1937 has been uncovered and will be displayed as part of the exhibition. The self-portrait sees Yevonde looking directly into the lens and at the viewer, positioned alongside her weighty one-shot camera and using Art Now – Herbert Read’s survey of modern art from 1933 – as a prop, clearly depicting herself as an artist with a camera.

Establishing her studio before the outbreak of the First World War, Yevonde’s work quickly became published in leading society and fashion magazines such as the Tatler and the Sketch, depicting new freedoms in fashion and leisure as well as capturing the growing independence of women. Her commercial work also appeared as advertisements constructed through humorous still life or by using models in tableaux. Yevonde’s audience included the readers of the growing field of women’s magazines including Woman and Beauty and Eve’s Journal.

An exciting new discovery revealed during the final stages of producing the exhibition publication, is the portrait of Dorothy Gisborne (Pratt) as Psyche (1935). Yevonde’s portrayal of the Greek goddess of the soul, with customary butterfly wings, is a previously unknown element of the Goddess series.

Yevonde’s originality demonstrated through these photographs traverses almost a century and provides a vision so fresh and relatable. It is enthralling that there are further revelations to be transformed into colour after almost a century or, for some, for the very first time.” Clare Freestone, Photographs Curator, National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is pleased to offer a new £5 ticket for its Summer 2023 season of exhibitions, available to all visitors aged 30 and under. Supported by the Principal Partner of the new National Portrait Gallery – Bank of America – reduced £5 tickets for Yevonde: Life and Colour will be available to all visitors aged 30 and under, seven days a week.

Yevonde: Life and Colour will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring over 160 beautifully illustrated photographic works from the pioneering photographer. The book, which includes an introductory essay by exhibition curator Clare Freestone, will explore how Yevonde’s bold creations brought a burst of colour to photography in Britain. It is available to  pre-order now.

Image: Margaret Sweeny (Whigham, later Duchess of Argyll) 1 by Yevonde (1938), purchased with support from the Portrait Fund, 2021

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The Pleasure of Donating

12201226692?profile=originalI have been collecting photographica (1839-1880) for over forty years, and the time has come for me to decide what to do with all the material that I have accumulated, which amounts to over 700 daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, and a host of fine cdvs, albumen prints, family albums, and so on.

I have no heirs and I am not a keen salesman, so I reached an important decision, which I have begun to put them into effect. No-one is going to buy my entire collection, I reasoned, but some institution might like to own the better parts of it.

In a word, I decided to donate!

It would be wonderful to donate an entire collection to a dedicated institution, but that will never happen. Firstly, the material would duplicate what any photographic museum would consider the core of its collection. Secondly, the quality of the material in a collection is variable. While I have found some wonderful and/or historically important pieces, there is a lot which is of great interest to me, but which would find no place in a national or a regional collection.

I decided to offer only material which might enrich or expand collections which already exist.

I would like to be remembered as a donor, obviously. More importantly, I would like the material that I have gathered to play some part in the formation of future generations of photo historians and photo collectors. I approached institutions in England where I was born, and in Italy, where I live, describing the contents of my collection, and I received encouraging replies from two museums which were interested in considering at least a part of my holdings.

I visited the museum in England which had expressed an interest, and immediately withdrew my offer to donate. The museum had been revamped since my last visit, which meant they had gone digital, so most of the original material was locked in the vault. I favour hands-on, and real exhibits. In my opinion they had ruined what was once the perfect museum, i.e, a miscellaneous collection of the weird and the wonderful.

After disappointment in England, I turned to the institution in Italy.

The Biblioteca Panizzi, an Italian national library, based in Reggio Emilia sent the head of their photographic collection, a noted photohistorian, and a conservator to visit me at my home and see what I was offering. In the course of two days we examined much of the material, and we reached an agreement. In the first instance, I proposed to donate my so-called “Teaching Collection,” which consists of material that I have used over the years while teaching the history of early photographic processes. This amounted to over 100 daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and ferrotypes. One year later, after this material had been catalogued, scanned and conserved, I made them a second offer, which was also accepted: my “Post Mortem Collection,” which consists of daguerreotype, ambrotype and cdvs images of corpses, mourners, chapels, churchyards and graves.

At the moment, I am contemplating a third donation which has still to be formalised.

The pleasure of donating, as I boldly entitled this note, comes from knowing that the sections of my collection which I love dearly, and which have some importance in the history of photography, will be available to anyone like me, who is fascinated by the visual technology of the nineteenth century.

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Passing: Dorothy Bohm (1924-2023)

12201227683?profile=originalThe photographer Dorothy Bohm has died aged 98 years after a short illness, just a few months short of her 99th birthday. A public celebration of Dorothy’s life and work will follow on the afternoon of Sunday 25 June, to mark what would have been her 99th birthday.

Obituary to follow. 

Read more about her remarkable life here:

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12201226301?profile=originalThe latest RPS Historical Group talk, 'W. & D. Downey, Photographers: The Road to Balmoral,' was recorded and is now available to view online. It includes the discovery of Downey's Crystal Palace Portrait Gallery that toured villages in Northumberland in 1856, how the company utilised early photography networks in the North East of England and London, and suggests a new date for the establishment of its first portrait studios in Newcastle.

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The Elusive Thomas Vernon Begbie

Thomas Begbie is known mainly because of the discovery of a cache of glass plate stereos in St James Square Edinburgh in 1955. These stereos from the late 1850s, the work of Alexander McGlashon, were incorrectly assumed to have been the work of Begbie. This post attempts to tease out what is known of Begbie

Census and other registration records point to him being born in 1841, (e.g. the 1901 census taken on 31st March gives his age as 59). The family business was that of lapidary and it seems that he probably trained as a lapidary.  Thomas’s father died in October 1855 and the business had ceased to exist by mid 1856.

The 1861 census lists Begbie as a lodger in 121 Rose Street, a crowded two storey property, suggesting that he was probably struggling a bit financially; his occupation is given as photographer, the earliest such reference. However it is extremely unlikely that he would have been able to carry out any photographic activities in such cramped accommodation so perhaps the enumerator has used a generic term whereas in reality photographic assistant would have been more accurate.

 At some point after April 1861 Begbie moved to London and was living in Hill Street when he married Sarah McDonald in 1864. By August of the following year when his daughter was born he had moved back to Edinburgh. Very interestingly her birth certificate gives Begbie’s occupation as photographer’s assistant as is the case on each of the birth certificates of his following three children. As, with one exception, these certificates bear Begbie’s handwritten signature, they can be taken as an authoritative statement of his occupation.  The exception is signed by his wife and also states that he is a photographer’s assistant.

In April 1867 Begbie became a member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society

By 1871 he is living with his wife’s family; her brother, whose occupation is a lapidary, is listed as the head of the household, again suggesting that he is still struggling to progress in photography.

Begbie’s circumstances improved during the 1870’s as he moved to a two roomed house in 7 Leith Street in Edinburgh, at last the head of his own household. From 1874 he is listed in the Post Office Directory at that address as a photographer and in the 1879 and two following directories he has placed a small advert for his photographic business. However after 1881 there are no further entries although he is still listed as a photographer in the 1891and 1901 censuses;  by 1901 he has moved into another two room house in 23 St James Square in Edinburgh; both his sons are in the jewellery trade. He is retired in the 1910 census.

Begbie died in St James Square in March 1915, two months after his wife’s death.

There are few contemporary references to him. A detailed search of the online British Newspaper Archive failed to produce any references, and there seems to be scarcely any surviving photos bearing the Begbie name; personally I have encountered only a few cdvs. It is reasonable to assume that he was not particularly successful as a photographer.

Intriguingly at the time of his death his two sons were in the jewellery trade. An obvious question is why didn’t they follow their father into the photographic profession – indeed did Thomas Begbie continue a parallel career in the jewellery trade, helping to make ends meet, and passing these skills on to his children?

Begbie is a shadowy figure who clearly had aspirations as a photographer but success seems to have eluded him; had it not been for the misattribution of the McGlashon photographs Begbie would likely have been no more than a footnote in photographic history.



























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12201224288?profile=originalAs many of you know, the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University supports the following websites:

Our servers urgently need upgrading to maintain security and there will be some disruption impacting access to these over the coming months. We would encourage any students or researchers to make use of them in the next few days before they temporarily go off-line.

We will continue to update you on progress and hope to have all your favourite sites back up and running better than ever (and safer than ever) very soon.

Thank you for your support and patience.

Professor Kelley Wilder
Director, Photographic History Research Centre

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12201222461?profile=originalFor roughly 150 years, people have been accustomed to seeing photomechanical prints on a daily basis. Prints exist in a variety of milieus with multiple variations over time, use, and geography. Historic and contemporary examples are prevalent in museums, libraries, archives, and personal collections worldwide. Photomechanical prints were developed to fill many needs including practical and economical methods for mass reproduction, techniques to facilitate the simultaneous printing of images and text, increased image permanence, a perception of increased truthfulness and objectivity, and an autonomous means of artistic expression. They exist at the intersections of numerous disciplines: photography and printmaking, functional and artistic practices, the histories of photography and the graphic arts, and the specialties of paper and photograph conservation.

The program will provide an opportunity for conservators, curators, historians, scientists, collections managers, catalogers, archivists, librarians, educators, printmakers, artists, and collectors to convene and collaborate while exploring all aspects of photomechanical printing. The resulting advancement of our collective understanding of these ubiquitous but under-researched materials will allow for new interpretations and improved approaches to their collection, interpretation, preservation, treatment, and display. 

A limited number of scholarships are available for international participants. Scholarship applications are due May 15. Funding for this program comes from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fund for Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) Endowment for Professional Development. FAIC relies on your contributions to support these and its many other programs. Learn more about donating to the foundation.

Photomechanical Prints: History, Technology, Aesthetics, and Use
Washington DC
31 October-2 November 2023
Programme, further information and registration:

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