Eric and Louise Franck, who have made the donation, are specialist dealers in photography and Contemporary art. They assembled the collection over 20 years, buying iconic works by the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Irving Penn.
The gift covers two thirds of the collection, with the Tate paying for
Valued at over £1m, it comprises in the region of 1400 photographs by 120 photographers and spans the period from the 1880s to the 2000s.
The collection is unified by its subject matter: the photographs document the lives and communities of a single city. It also traces developments in the photographic process.
Highlights include Cartier-Bresson's Waiting in Trafalgar Square for the Coronation Parade of King George VI 1937, Bruce Davidson's Girl with Kitten 1962, Elliot Erwitt's Bus Stop, London 1962, Frank's London (Child Running from Hearse) 1951 and Penn's Charwomen, London 1950.
The majority of works in the collection are from the 20th century and involve some of the century's finest photographers, such as those already mentioned along with Ellen Auerbach, Eve Arnold, Ian Berry, Dorothy Bohm, Bill Brandt, Horacio Coppola, Martine Franck, Stephen Gill, Karen Knorr, Marketa Luskacova and Roger Mayne.
The donation more than doubles the Tate's holdings of photography. It follows recent gifts of a group of photographs by Don McCullin and a major vintage print of London by Cartier-Bresson as well as contemporary film works by Tacita Dean and Jaki Irvine.
Another London opens at Tate Britain on July 27.