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Cimelia Photographica

Cimelia Photographica: 1850-1900

In 1826, the Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce succeeded in creating a reproduction of a copper engraving using solely the effect of light on a template treated beforehand with light-sensitive material and a plate prepared in the same way. This heliography (“sun drawing”) was the beginning of a revolutionary development of photochemical techniques. Soon afterwards, Niépce succeeded in using this process to also capture views “from nature”, seen through the camera lens, permanently on a plate. Louis Daguerre, who was working on similar experiments in parallel to Niépce, further developed the process discovered by Niépce. The Daguerreotypes, as they were known, had the drawback that they faded quickly, were not very colour-sensitive, portrayed a mirror-inverted image of the objects and above all could not be reproduced. However, the last two problems were soon solved by the invention of the negative/positive photographic process by the Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot. In the following decades, people tried above all to reduce the exposure time, to improve the colour-sensitivity and durability of photographic material and to find suitable image carriers for the photographic prints. Therefore, from 1850 onwards they used albumin paper, which was coated with egg white and could reproduce the sharpness and detail of the negative better than the previously-used salt paper. But it was only as of the mid-1860s and the advent of the carbon print that lightfast prints with a wide spectrum of contrast and tonal value were possible. Numerous photographic prints among the treasures in the photo library bear witness to these early techniques. At the same time, they illustrate the relationship between art reproduction techniques and the methodical development of the history of art.


Romualdo Moscioni: Trajan’s Arch in Benevent, albumin print, before 1893. Photograph: 37.8 x 26 cm (inventory no. 4215)

Romualdo Moscioni: Cathedral of Ruvo, albumin print, before 1893. Photograph: 39.4 x 25.5 cm (inventory no. 4309)

Unidentified photographer: San Bernardino in Perugia, albumin print, before 1898, estate of Hermann Ulmann. Photograph: 34.8 x 26 cm (inventory no. 856)

Unidentified photographer: San Geminiano in Modena, albumin print, 1868, estate of Cornel von Fabriczy. Photograph: 25.8 x 19.6 cm (inventory no. 26382)

Paolo Lombardi: Cappella di Piazza at the Piazza del Campo in Siena, albumin print, before 1890. Photograph: 25.8 x 19.6 cm (inventory no. 88171)

Unidentified photographer: Fondaco dei Turchi in Venice, albumin print, before 1861. Board: 6.2 x 10.8 cm (inventory no. 418099)

Carlo Naya: “Giulio Romano: Amor und Psyche’s Wedding (Details), fresco in the Palazzo del Tè in Mantua”, salt paper treated with albumin?, 1850s. Foto: 26,6 x 34,1 cm (inventory no. 13922)

Antonio Perini: “Giorgione, later attributed to Giovanni Cariani: Group of Figures, Drawing from the Venice Accademia”, albumin print, around 1856. Photograph: 18.9 x 22.9 cm (inventory no. 9887)

Luigi Brillet-Buyet: “Tito Lessi: The Bibliophile”, albumin print, 1883. Board: 22.3 x 27.2 cm (inventory no. 435166)

Unidentified photographer: “Attributed to Paolo Veronese: The Toilet of Venus, Private Collection in Milan”, carbon print(?), estate of Detlev van Hadeln. Photograph: 26.5 x 23.4 cm (inventory no. 406247)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Franciabigio: Portrait of a Young Man, Institute of Fine Arts in Detroit”, carbon print, 1904. Board: 69.5 x 54 cm (inventory no. 5149)

Unidentified photographer: “Domenico Rosselli, Madonna with Child, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld”, albumin print, estate of Cornel von Fabriczy. Photograph: 22.8 x 16.4 cm (inventory no. 11123)




© KHI in Florence | 01.10.2020 06:48:33