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The collection of photographs in the Graphic Collection, with around 22,000 inventoried prints, dates mainly from the 19th century. From 1855 onwards, photographic prints were purchased regularly and in large numbers at the Academy, so that by the turn of the 20th century the collection had grown to more than 15,000 photographs.

Photograph of the Cologne Cathedral under construction, still without the towers of the west façade.
Johann Franz Michiels: The Cologne Cathedral under Construction, 1856, salt paper, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

The aim and purpose of these acquisitions was to support the teaching and training of artists (women were not admitted to the Academy until 1921) at the Academy. Thus, prints with various motifs that could be used for artistic viewing, presentation and inspiration were united in a comprehensive visual teaching aid collection. As a result, there are above all large collections of views and architectural photographs of various cities or of places of cultural and historical interest, landscape, animal and nature studies, as well as countless photographs of works of art.

Black and white photograph of a glacier and partly snow-covered mountain range in the French Alps.
Louis-Auguste Bisson, Auguste-Rosalie Bisson, called Bisson frères: Glacier with View of the Aiguille des Grands Charmoz , 1862, albumen paper, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Even if the motif and not the photographer or the artistic quality was of interest in these acquisitions, there are still numerous prints by photographers such as the Fratelli Alinari, Ludwig Angerer, Victor Angerer, Ottomar Anschütz, Édouard-Denis Baldus, Luigi Bardi, the Bisson frères, Adolphe Braun, Andreas Groll, Bernhard Johannes, Hermann Heid, Josef Löwy, Johann Franz Michiels, Moriz Nähr, Carlo Naya, Giorgio Sommer, August Stauda, Gustav Völkerling, Josef Wlha and many more in the holdings.

Coloured photo of the waterfront Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice, lined by a row of houses on the left and the lagoon with sailing ships on the right. The photographer's shop can be seen in the left foreground.
Carlo Naya: The Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice, before 1893, albumen paper, coloured, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

The collection is supplemented by photographs acquired as part of artists’ estates, such as those of Theophil von Hansen and Carl Rahl.

Black and white photograph of the painter Gustav Klimt in floor-length robe and with a cat in his arms.
Moriz Nähr: Gustav Klimt with Cat in the Garden of his Workshop at Josefstädter Straße 21 in Vienna, May 1911, silver-gelatine paper, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna