Featured Collection: The Gabriel Cromer Collection
Housed at the George Eastman Museum and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), the Gabriel Cromer Collection is one of the most significant collections of early French photography in the world. The Eastman Museum’s holdings represent the most extensive collection of such materials outside of France and comprise more than six thousand objects, including books, albums, journals, original documents and letters, ephemera, and other printed materials; paintings, drawings, caricatures, silhouettes, and sculpture; all manner of equipment and apparatus; pre-cinema devices; and a considerable number of rare and important photographs.
Gabriel Cromer (French, 1873–1934) studied law and began to make photographs while he was a student. Rather than practice law, however, Cromer turned to photography as a profession and began collecting photographica around 1906. He built his celebrated collection through traditional means (auctions, dealers, antiquarian bookstores), but also established relationships with the descendants of family members and friends of figures such as Louis Daguerre, one of the inventors of photography, and Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot, an important early practitioner of the daguerreotype process.
In 2016, the Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded the Eastman Museum a grant to catalog and digitize this world-renowned collection. The museum has now completed the project and is pleased to provide the public with free online access to the collection for both scholarly research and recreational inquiry.
The collection spans four curatorial departments of the Eastman Museum. The objects in the photography, technology, and moving image collections can be accessed through the museum’s online collections site. Descriptions of the objects in the Richard and Ronay Menschel Library can be found in the online library catalog and in the finding aid for the Gabriel Cromer Collection.
The museum will present an exhibition of the Cromer Collection and publish an accompanying catalogue with new scholarship in 2022.