Country: USA
Year: 1929 - Present


Samuel Henry Kress

Social Aim


The Kress Research Program on the Provenance of Works


The Samuel H. Kress Art Collection


Mission and Foundation

Samuel H. Kress Foundation was established by Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955) in 1929 to support people and institutions engaged with the appreciation, preservation, study and teaching of the history of European art and architecture, from antiquity to the dawn of modern times.

The Kress Foundation supports museums and American art high education institutes, research centers and libraries around the world. It sponsors the art preservation training and research, as well as the restoration and preservation of art works.

Grants for Scholarly Projects and Education at Museums

These grants are given to art historians and art conservators in the final stages of their preparation for their professional career, and to students of art history and other related fields who have an interest in art museum education and in curating.

There are three types of Grant Programs: 
• History of Art. These grants support scholarly projects dedicated to European art and architecture.
• Conservation. These grants support the professional practice of art restoration and preservation.
• Digital Resources. These grants support the integration of new technologies into the practice of Art History, including classes and online publications.

Unparallel Initiative on Art Conservations Programs

With the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Kress Program in Painting Conservation offers a unique experience/training in the conservation of Old Master paintings. The Kress Program (as informally known) focuses on the cleaning, restoration and comprehensive technical examination of selected art works from the Samuel H. Kress Collection.

Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Research Professor in Painting Conservation and, Rita Berg, Associate Conservator in the Program, provide the students with advanced instructions on the treatment of these Old Master paintings with the quality to be in a museum. In general, the paintings come from American regional collections and other institutions with no resident conservation departments. Each picture is carefully selected for its suitability as an academic project. The more advanced the student, the more challenging the conservation problems. The students carry out an accurate analysis of each painting prior to its treatment. Paintings with more difficult requirements are treated by the instructors and serve as demonstrations on how to formulate and execute particularly demanding treatments.

The Kress Program in Painting Conservation has also supported publications in the fields of Italian paintings history, technology, and conservation treatments.

Program of Great Relevance

The Kress Provenance Research Project supports the best museum practices regarding provenance research and transparency in museum collection information. This project was promoted by the American Alliance of Museums (formerly, the American Association of Museums) and the Association of Art Museum Directors. The project takes place at the National Gallery of Art, that assumes a leading role in the field of provenance research facilitated by its location in Washington, DC, close to the United States National Archives, the  Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, and by its excellent own resources for research. The project is directed by Nancy H. Yeide, an internationally recognized expert in provenance research.

Edition of the Kress Collection Catalogue (9 volumes)

Since1964, the Kress Foundation sponsored the publication of the scholarly Complete Catalogue of Samuel H. Kress Collection. These nine illustrated volumes were written by the foremost art historians and may be downloaded for free from the Kress Foundation website.

Catalogue Topics
• Italian Paintings. XIII-XV Century 
• Italian Paintings.  XV – XVI Century 
• Italian Paintings. XVI-XVIII Century 
• European Paintings. Excluding Italian 
• European Sculpture. XIV-XIX Century 
• Tapestries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 
• Renaissance Medals at the National Gallery of Art. Washington DC 
• Renaissance Bronzes 
• Decorative Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

Relevance of the Samuel H. Kress Art Collection and its Donations

The Kress Collection embraces more than 3,000 works of European art, and is distinguished by the great quantity of Italian Renaissance paintings. With its national program on art philanthropy, the Kress Foundation donated more than 700 Old Masters to the regional museums of eighteen cities in the United States during the 1950s.

Another 200 paintings were donated as study collections to twenty-three colleges and universities. Important donations of special collection were given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (French porcelains and furniture, and a complete Robert Adam room with Gobelin tapestries), the Pierpont Morgan Library (drawings and illustrated manuscripts), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (thirteen tapestries based on designs by Rubens and Pietro da Cortona), which was the most important donation received by the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

See images of the Kress Collection at the Samuel Henry Kress page


KRESS Foundation
Samuel H. Kress: Philanthropist and Collector
Dianne Dwyer Modestini