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Cimelia Photographica

The Photographic Reproduction of Drawings

The history of art, which was established as an academic discipline from the middle of the 19th century, soon discovered the benefits of photography as a tool. The new medium appeared to provide inimitably accurate visual material, in contrast to the older reproduction methods such as copper engraving and redrawing, which could not satisfy the requirement for an “academically objective source” due to the “subjective perspective” of the artists producing them. For example, photographs, together with engravings and drawings, now enabled the collecting and comparison of the works of a single artist, which were often spread around the world. From the 1850s onwards, photographers devoted their efforts increasingly to the photographic reproduction of hand drawings and copper engravings, alongside the portrayal of architecture and sculpture, because initially the monochrome originals of hand drawings and copper engravings could be reproduced better than paintings due to the colour-blindness of the negatives. However, facsimiles were only possible after the invention of carbon printing. The same pigment of the dye that the artist used for the drawing could also be used for the reproduction. When the publisher Adolph Braun presented almost 1000 such photographs of drawings from the Louvre whose colours approached the monochrome originals, the art historian Wilhelm Lübke wrote enthusiastically: “Only a faint remnant of the telltale glossiness that the surface of the photograph features when looked at from a certain angle distinguishes these expert copies from the originals, if this were not the case, this new process (…) could be disastrous for the collections.”


Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: Saint Anna with Maria and the Christ Child. Drawing from the Louvre in Paris”, carbon print, before 1880. Board: 48.5 x 34 cm (inventory no. 3934)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: Group of figures. Drawing from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford”, carbon print, before 1887. Board: 48.5 x 34 cm (inventory no. 4012)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: The Fall of Phaeton. Drawing from the Royal Library in Windsor Castle”, carbon print, after 1887. Board: 48.5 x 34 cm (inventory no. 4090)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Copy after Michelangelo Buonarroti: Archers. Drawing from the Royal Library in Windsor Castle”, carbon print, after 1887. Board: 34 x 48.6 cm (inventory no. 4107)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Copy after Michelangelo Buonarroti: Archers. Drawing from the Royal Library in Windsor Castle”, carbon print, after 1887. Board: 34 x 48.6 cm (inventory no. 4107)

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: The Body of Christ. Drawing from the Albertina in Vienna”, carbon print, before 1887. Board: 34 x 48.5 cm (inventory no. 3965)

F.C.Lewis: “Michelangelo: Study of the Human Body for the Figure of Adam in the Sistine Chapel”, engraving. From: W.Y.Ottley: The Italian School of Design: Being a Series of Fac-Similes of Original Drawings […], London 1823

Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: Study of a figure. Drawing from the Uffizi in Florence”, carbon print, before 1868. Board: 48.5 x 34 cm (inventory no. 4082)

Roberto Palermo: “Michelangelo Buonarroti: Study of a figure. Drawing from the Uffizi in Florence, inventory no. 620 E (Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe)", digital photography, 2009




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Adolphe Braun & Cie.: “Copy after Michelangelo Buonarroti: Archers. Drawing from the Royal Library in Windsor Castle”, carbon print, after 1887. Board: 34 x 48.6 cm (inventory no. 4107)

© KHI in Florence | 21.10.2020 23:16:42