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Gustav Ludwig. The photographic bequest

“Venetian household furniture in the Renaissance“

Ludwig’s intensive research on the sources had also shifted his scientific interest to the wider field of cultural history. His studies on the trading relations of the Serenissima with Egypt and Flanders, local textile production, oriental artefacts in Venetian households and other objects of the decorative arts would finally flow into a larger study with the title Venezianischer Hausrat zur Zeit der Renaissance (“Venetian household furniture in the Renaissance period”). Already during its preparation, Heinrich Brockhaus, Director of the Kunsthistorischen Institut in Florenz, had envisaged this work as the first volume of the Institute’s own series “Italienische Forschungen”. When Ludwig’s state of health deteriorated, Brockhaus sent his assistant Fritz Rintelen to Venice, in order to help the dying man prepare the final draft of his text. But it was only after Ludwig’s death on 15 January 1905 that Rintelen could finally complete the book, which was therefore posthumously published in the Institute’s series. A central focal point of Ludwig’s reflections on Venetian household furniture was the so-called “restello da camera”. This is a piece of furniture that is often mentioned in inventories of the period, but research had hitherto failed to determine either its etymology or, more importantly, its precise function. Ludwig’s service lay not only in his precise definition of this object as a “combination of mirror and row of pegs for hanging up objects”. He also argued that five small-format panels by Giovanni Bellini with allegorical representations now in the Accademia in Venice must have been originally intended for just such a piece of domestic furniture. With the help of photomontages he proposed a hypothetical reconstruction of how they might have been incorporated into it.


Unidentified photographer: “Perfumatory” (“Profumego”) from Cairo, Museo Correr, Venice“, before 1905, albumen print, 33.5 x 24 cm (mount), inv. no. 8359

Unidentified photographer: “Venetian coffer, c.1540, London, Victoria and Albert Museum“, before 1905, albumen print, 18.8 x 25.8 cm (photo), inv. no. 8358

Unidentified photographer: “Venetian looking-glass frame, c.1590, London, Victoria and Albert Museum“, 1897, albumen print, 24.9 x 18.4 cm (photo), inv. no. 8357

Unidentified photographer and draughtsman: Ludwig’s reconstruction of a “Restello da camera” incorporating Giovanni Bellini’s allegorical panels, before 1905, silver gelatin print, paper, pencil, 39.8 x 30.8 cm (photo), inv. no. 95529

Unidentified photographer: Ludwig’s reconstruction of a “Restello da camera” incorporating Giovanni Bellini’s allegorical panels, before 1905, silver gelatin print, 39.5 x 30.8 cm (photo), inv. no. 95539

Unidentified photographer: Ludwig’s reconstruction of a “Restello da camera” incorporating Giovanni Bellini’s allegorical panels, before 1905, silver gelatin print, 38.6 x 31 cm (photo), inv. no. 94481




© KHI in Florence | 19.09.2020 18:23:56