This blog post was written by former Archives Associate, Armando Suarez.
The Frederick James Ladd Photographic Collection (circa 1969-1999) is now available for research in the University Archives at the Albert S. Cook Library. The finding aid is searchable online, while the physical materials can be consulted at the Archives and Special Collections room located on the 5th floor of the library. This rich collection contains approximately 12,500 slides, as well as other materials, chiefly relating to the topic of art history. Many of the slides were probably taken by Dr. Ladd, while others appear to have been purchased. The images correspond to various art historical periods, including Greek, Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and others.
Dr. Frederic James Ladd, a former faculty member in the Art History Department at Towson University, was born February 14, 1926 in Bristol, England. After serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he went on to study painting at the Bristol School of Art. Afterwards, in July 1963, he acquired a Certificate in Education from the University of Bristol (Bath Academy). In that same year, Dr. Ladd was awarded a graduate assistantship at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, to study art history, specializing in architecture, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History. His dissertation was entitled “The Revival style alterations at Corsham Court, 1749-1849”.
In 1971, he came to then, Towson State University, where he spent his entire career teaching courses in art history and architecture, until his retirement in 1991. Following on the topic of his dissertation, Dr. Ladd continued his interest with Corsham Court, a beautiful Elizabethan mansion built in 1582 located in Wiltshire, England, and later bought by Paul Methuen in the mid-18th century, where he housed his major art collection of 16th and 17th century Italian and Flemish paintings. In 1978, his book entitled, “Architects at Corsham Court: a study in Revival style architecture and landscaping, 1749-1849” was published.
Besides his academic and professional pursuits, Dr. Ladd enjoyed medieval history, collecting stamps of the United Kingdom, flowers, gardening and learning the Latin names of common species in England, as well as traveling, visiting various places throughout Italy, France, Germany, England, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and Mexico. Dr. Ladd died at the age of 81, in March 12, 2007, after a long bout with leukemia.
The collection is chiefly composed of photographic materials from Dr. Frederick James Ladd dating from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. The bulk of the materials consist of 35mm slides, including images of sculptures, paintings, gardens, fountains, archeological sites, and architectural structures; such as churches, palaces, and villas. A few highlights include the Orsini Gardens in Bormazo, the Villa Lante at Bagnaia, the archeological sites of Pompeii and Ostia Antica, the Arch of Constantine in Rome, and St. Peter’s; paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo; sculpture, including Greek, Roman, Renaissance, and Italian Baroque; English Architecture, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, Corsham Court, Blenheim Palace, and Kedleston Hall; as well as Gothic Art, Elizabethan Revival, and other subjects. Other materials include photographs, negatives, contact prints, and personal papers, including two notebooks containing Dr. Ladd’s dissertation research notes from 1971.