About us

About usPhotographic art collecting, though still a young discipline, was a mere infant when K&J Jacobson started in the field. Little formal training was then available so, like many people now in this sphere, they started in another. Ken had gained a BA in Chemistry from Princeton University before moving to the UK to do a PhD in Biophysics at King's College, London. There he met Jenny, who was working in research in Biochemistry. Even before completion of his doctorate, Ken was drawn to the field of nineteenth-century photographs and, time and finances permitting, began collecting. To satisfy this burgeoning passion and to gratify Jenny's yearning for a more rural lifestyle, Jenny and Ken moved to the English countryside and became full-time photographic art dealers, planning perhaps a brief interval before careers in scientific research. That 'gap year', which began in 1976, is still continuing and the passion has happily not yet been extinguished.

The intervening years have brought a successful working partnership, rich and varied experiences plus the chance to meet a host of interesting fellow enthusiasts from around the world. Ken is probably the only person foolish enough to have conscientiously viewed virtually every 19th century lot of almost every British photography auction to have taken place since inception at Sotheby's, London in 1971. In recent years, this diligence no longer seems relevant. The once overflowing tea chests of 19th century photographic albums have given way to the odd handful of older photographs framed on the wall alongside much more modern works and even to the temporary (one hopes) cessation of photography auctions altogether in London by some of the major auction houses.

A resurgence of academic curiosity has been re-directed towards the history of photography; thus, in the last several years, Ken is increasingly occupied in archives and libraries. The 'sometime historian' is taking over after almost 40 years immersed in the subject. During this evolution, the Jacobsons have assembled possibly the most extensive library in private hands devoted to the study of 19th century art photographs and are always happy where possible to use these resources to help serious researchers. The fruits of Ken's work have been a series of publications, the most recent of which, Odalisques and Arabesques: Orientalist Photography, 1839-1925, was shortlisted for the 2008 Kraszna-Krausz award for the best photography book published during the previous two years.

It is hoped that the Jacobsons' knowledge of photographic history as well as a highly developed sense of the eclectic allows them to provide clients with a rounded understanding of the field and to create an awareness of works that may previously have been neglected by the market. There are few fields other than photography where so many astonishing works of art may be discovered outside the mainstream narrative of art history. The Jacobsons feel it is part of their job to introduce these gems to their clients, this nuanced approach hopefully generating visual as well as financial benefits. As dealers, their aesthetic preference is for imagery of a documentary nature taken with a lack of artistic self-consciousness. Many such images manifest a surprising nascent modernism. The photography of India, China, the Middle East, Japan, Sri Lanka, Latin America, daguerreotypes and artist's studies are particular interests.

K&J Jacobson sell photographs to museums and collectors around the world. They are members of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers and Ken Jacobson was on the Board of Directors of that organisation for a ten-year period. Ken has given lectures at the Royal Asiatic Society in London, the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, the Department Of Art History at the University of Cambridge and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.