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History of Art - Visual Resources Centre: Braun Photographs

Braun Photographs

Adolphe Braun (1812-1877) was a French photographer whose studio, Braun et Cie., specialised in the development of landscape pictures and art historical images. The VRC holds a collection of 125 loose mounted photographs (using a carbon printing process) of the Sistine Chapel, taken by Braun and his sons, Henri and Gaston, in 1869. These images meticulously surveyed the frescoes decorating the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. At the time of their release they constituted the only existing photographic record of the chapel’s interior. These large photographs (37x48 cm) exemplify Braun’s technical abilities in successfully capturing the curved surface of the ceiling.

The photographs are kept in six leather-bound book-shaped cases bearing the crest of the Earl of Eldon. In 1845 and 1868 respectively, the Second and Third Earls of Eldon made considerable donations towards the conservation and enrichment of the University’s collection of Italian art. Braun’s Sistine Chapel series was most likely acquired by the curators of the University Galleries using these funds. They were originally housed in the Ashmolean Library, but were moved to the Department in 2003. The boxes were restored the same year and the prints themselves are in good condition. In 2018 the photographs were digitised and are available to view on Digital Bodleian.

Further information about research in to the collection can be read in a post on the Department of History of Art blog.



The Visual Resources Centre is open

Monday - Thursday 9am - 5pm

Friday 9am - 4pm

If you would like to view the collections or have a question related to the resources please email the Visual Resources Assistant Francesca Issatt at

01865 286839

History of Art Department
University of Oxford
Suite 9, Littlegate House
St Ebbe’s, Oxford
OX1 1PT, United Kingdom