The Kress Collection Digital Archive, a project of the National Gallery of Art Gallery Archives that was generously funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, promotes understanding of the history and development of the Kress Collection in the larger context of the history of the National Gallery of Art and culture in the United States.

The Kress Collection encompasses more than 3,000 works of European art, particularly Italian Renaissance paintings, amassed by businessman and art collector Samuel H. Kress and his foundation. By 1961, the collection had been dispersed and donated to over 90 art museums and educational institutions throughout the United States. The largest gift went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. By bringing early European art to millions of Americans where they lived, the Kress Collection has been significant to the cultural history of the United States.

The Kress Collection has also been vitally important to the National Gallery of Art. When the Gallery opened in 1941, nearly three-quarters of the works on view were gifts or loans from the Kress Collection. For the next two decades, the Foundation developed, honed, and ultimately distributed the collection in close cooperation with the museum. The history of the Kress Collection and the development of the National Gallery are fundamentally linked.

The Kress Collection Digital Archive virtually unites objects in the Kress Collection and illustrates their history, acquisition, condition and care, and distribution. Gallery Archives staff compiled data about objects, related archival materials, object history (acquisitions and distributions), and associated people and organizations (artists, institutions, dealers and collectors, and historians and conservators). High-quality digital images of objects were obtained, and over 10,000 historical and conservation documents and images from the holdings of the Gallery Archives, the National Gallery of Art painting conservation department, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Archive have been digitized so far. The significant scope of this resource will support new, complex art historical studies benefiting researchers from various disciplines.

Objects form the core of the platform. Records for each Kress Collection work of art contain basic data (e.g., title, artist, date, medium) and other identifiers, and historical attribution data when available. Provenance information on all Kress Collection paintings is included through the work conducted by the National Gallery of Art Kress Provenance Research Project. Most objects have an image available; more images will be added as they are obtained. The images are IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) compliant and users can study a single image or compare multiple images side by side and zoom, pan, and rotate images. Relevant Archival Item, Acquisition, and Distribution records are linked to each Object record.

We provide links to related content when they are available. For example, current owner collection records provide access to current object data. The Kress Collection of Historic Images records, maintained by the Gallery's department of image collections, provide additional digitized images of objects. National Gallery of Art Online Editions include detailed narrative information on the condition and conservation history of objects.

Archival Materials are selected digitized historical and conservation documents and images that relate to Kress objects. These include art object records, expert opinions, condition and restoration records, reports and shadowgraphs by conservator Alan Burroughs, photographs, work summary logs, conservation reports, and dealer and collector correspondence. These materials were selected from the holdings of the National Gallery of Art Gallery Archives, the National Gallery of Art painting conservation department, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Archive, and date from around 1910 to 2015. Related Object records are linked. See Archival Materials Description for more details.

Object History documents the acquisition and distribution of the Kress Collection.

Acquisitions record the purchase of Kress Collection objects and consist of digitized documentation and parsed data. Each object associated with an Acquisition record is detailed—whether it was a purchase, credit, or return; its attribution; and the dollar value—and linked. For most objects known to have been purchased by Samuel H. Kress and the Kress Foundation, we have located and digitized documentation; however, for some objects, only the last name of the seller and year may be known.

Distributions consist of information relating to the distribution of Kress Collection objects to over 95 institutions, mainly through gifts to Kress regional collections, study collections, the National Gallery of Art, and other gift locations. (A small number of loans, deaccessions, and transfers is also recorded.) Each object associated with a Distribution record is linked.

People and Organizations associated with the Kress Collection records are categorized by Artists, Institutions, Dealers and Collectors, and Historians and Conservators. Records contain authoritative data for the name entities derived from and linked to VIAF (Virtual International Authority File), LCNAF (Library of Congress Name Authority File), and/or ULAN (Getty Union List of Artist Names) records. Some records contain links to Wikipedia articles. Name records are linked to relevant records throughout—Artists to Objects, Institutions to Objects and Distributions, Dealers and Collectors to Acquisitions and Archival Items, and Historians and Conservators to Archival Items.


We give heartfelt thanks to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for their generous support of the project and enduring patience and enthusiasm.

Current project staff include archivist Shannon Yule Morelli and chief of Gallery Archives Kathleen Williams.

We wish to acknowledge the contributions of Lauren Algee, Julie Blake, Chelsea Cates, Elizabeth Concha, Maygene Daniels, Joanna Dunn, Rebecca Fasman, Sarah Fisher, Anne Halpern, Jennifer Henel, Jay Krueger, Melissa Lemke, Mason McClew, Sarah Osborne Bender, Janice Reyes, Angela Salisbury, Marta Staudinger, Elizabeth Walmsley, Michele Willens, Nancy Yeide, and Fulvia Zaninelli.

Object images are courtesy of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the National Gallery of Art, unless noted otherwise.

This site was developed in collaboration with the team at Whirl-i-Gig using a custom configuration of CollectiveAccess.