Issue #149  10/9/2008
Israel Museum Receives One of World's Most Important Private Photography Collections

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem recently announced that long-time patrons Harriette and Noel Levine have gifted their extensive photography collection to the museum, encompassing 125 photographs that span over 160 years of the history of the medium. Their collection, considered one of the finest such collections in private hands, comprises works ranging from 19th-century British calotypes to modernist masterpieces to recent examples of contemporary work. This gift builds on the museum's 40-year history of collecting photography, further distinguishing it as one of the world's premier photography holdings.

In addition to the gift of the collection, the Israel Museum received new gifts totaling $2 million in endowment support for the museum's photography department--$1 million from the Levines themselves and $1 million from Patricia Gerber, sister of Harriette Levine, in honor of the Levines. These generous contributions add to the $12 million gift committed by the Levines in 2005 to endow the Museum's photography department, creating a total of $14 million in endowed funds for the department (see E-Photo Newsletter #96 for further details). In 1994, the Levines also donated a collection of 80 signed works by noted American photographer and photojournalist André Kertész (1894-1985).

Noel and Harriette Levine built their photography collection over the course of 30 years. Embracing a wide range of periods and styles, the collection features notable examples of vintage 19th-century photography, including iconic calotypes by the British practitioners William Henry Fox Talbot, and David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson; images by American masters of early landscape photography, among them William H. Jackson and Carleton E. Watkins; and work by French masters such as Gustave Le Gray and Nadar. The collection also encompasses signature examples of Pictorialism by such important figures as Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Gustav Rejlander, Karl Struss and Hans Watzek.

The Levines also hold an exemplary representation of early 20th-century works of American and international modernism by some if its greatest masters--Paul Outerbridge, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston--and an extensive holding of images by André Kertész. The collection also includes key images by contemporary photographers, including David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and William Wegman.

"It is with pride and pleasure that Harriette and I pay tribute to the Israel Museum--and enrich its holdings in photography--with the gift of our collection on the occasion of the state of Israel's 60th anniversary," said Noel Levine.