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The Robert Freson Photographic Archive

(l-r) Robert Freson, President Dwight Eisenhower by Freson, 1964. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding, 1981(L-R) Robert Freson, 2013; President Dwight Eisenhower by Freson, 1964; Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding by Freson, 1981.

The Briscoe Center has acquired the photographic archive of Robert Freson, a student of Irving Penn whose images appeared in New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and National Geographic.

“I’m grateful to Robert for choosing the Briscoe Center as the home of his vast and impressively organized archive of images and records,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “Through his documentation of art, architecture, fashion, and celebrity, he has created a body of work that speaks to many important strands of American culture over the last 60 years.”

Freson was born in Belgium in 1926. During World War II he joined the British Royal Navy, having fled his Nazi-occupied homeland. After the war he studied in Switzerland before immigrating to the United States in 1948. He eventually began working at Vogue with Penn, an experience that opened him up to the world of photojournalism. Beginning in 1962, Freson embarked upon a successful freelancing career. Based out of a studio in Carnegie Hall, he traveled the globe, with his pictures appearing in many American magazines as well as The Sunday Times of London, Marie Claire of Paris, Stern of Hamburg, and Epoca of Italy. He spent much of his career documenting American culture through its fashions, architecture, food and celebrities as well as producing iconic images of statesmen such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, who he photographed at Gettysburg in 1964. Freson also covered a broad range of international subjects including battle scenes from World War I and II, Winston Churchill’s funeral, royal weddings and daily life under communism

“My collection is two and a half tons of photographs, about 350,000 images. It’s a fount of memories of things that happened over the last 60-70 years.” said Freson. “The Briscoe Center did a superb job of carefully moving it from Maine to Austin."

The Robert Freson Photographic Archive contains photographs, negatives, tear sheets, and over 60 diaries. It will be open for research in late 2019.

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