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Photo-Objects and "Applied Arts" in the Photothek

From pulpit to merry-go-round

The “Applied Arts” section of the Photothek follows a dynamic and expandable arrangement that comprises such categories as material, production process and application. In a second step they are further broken down according to object types. This can be illustrated by the sub-section “Wood”. It comprises church furnishings, reliquaries, ceilings, doors, tables, diverse seating furniture, commodes, cabinets, chests, beds and musical instruments. A box of photos with the label “Sledges, Wagons and Sedan Chairs” also belongs to this sub-section, which even comprises a merry-go-round. The individual groups of objects can further be classified chronologically, topographically and also according to artists’ names, whereby several of these sub-categories often coincide. The inclusion of artists in the system of classification clearly shows that the “Applied Arts” section is not only characterized in the narrower sense as a collection of industrially and mainly anonymously produced utilitarian objects. Consideration is also given to the arts and crafts (“Kunsthandwerk”) which according to current definition comprise unique objects or smaller series created by artists or workshops.
The borderlines between objects from the applied arts (Kunstgewerbe) and arts and crafts (Kunsthandwerk), however, remain unclear; terminological discussion about them could be continued by the introduction of many further terms, ranging from the decorative arts to design. Since the 1870s, the term “Kunstgewerbe” (applied arts) was commonly accepted in Germany and has entered into day-to-day language. Today it refers in large part to decorative objects that were produced before or around 1900 and are felt to be “historic”.
Yet it is not only the objects themselves, categorized as applied arts or arts and crafts and reproduced in photographs that should be understood as objects here. Moreover, the photos themselves should also be considered as objects in their own right defining a separate field of historical research, both materially and epistemologically. They are mounted on cards and furnished with stamped or hand-written inventory numbers, shelf-marks, titles and attributions to artists, references to the relevant bibliography and other data; and it is through these annotations that the focus is shifted from their visual content to their materiality.


Sorelle Gagliardi, pulpit and confessional, 18th century, albumin print, before 1899, 18,8 x 23,9 cm (photograph), inv. no. 176072 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Luigi Artini, leg reliquary of St. Saturnin, 1616-1625, silver-gelatin print, 1988, 23,6 x 18 cm (photograph), neg. no. 55153, inv. no. 531639 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Romualdo Moscioni, sacristy cabinet by Fra Giuseppe da Soleto, between 1638/1667, albumin print, before 1903, 20,2 x 25,5 cm (photograph), neg. no. 8445, inv. no. 3507 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Rabatti-Domingie Photography, painted wooden ceiling, 16th century, digital print, 2008, inv. no. 593975 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, door, 18th century, albumin print, c. 1900, 25,9 x 20,8 cm (photograph), inv. no. 198311 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, table, before 1650, silver-gelatin print, before 1964, 18,1 x 25,6 cm (photograph), inv. no. 201799 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Ferdinando Barsotti, elbow chair and sofa, btw. 1750/1850, silver-gelatin print, before 1962, 11,4 x 22,7 cm (photograph), inv. no. 176139 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, piece of furniture (“banco da centro”), 16th century, coloured silver-gelatin print, after 1890, 17 x 9,3 cm (photograph), inv. no. 198290 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Reali, book case, 18th century, silver-gelatin print, before 1962, 21 x 25,7 cm (photograph), inv. no. 175322 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, chest with carved corners, c. 1490, albumin print, before 1907, 17,4 x 22,7 cm (photograph), inv. no. 8224, bequest Gustav Ludwig (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, bedframe, 18th century, silver-gelatin print, before 1935, 11,1 x 20,8 cm (photograph), inv. no. 104532, donation Luigi Vittorio Fossati Bellani (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified artist, bed with baldachin, 19th century, drawing, before 1968, 13,6 x 20,8 cm, inv. no. 237047, donation Fabrizio Centurini (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Fratelli Alinari, chest with antique-like relief with figures, 2nd half of the 15th century, silver-gelatin print, before 1927, 19,3 x 25 cm (photograph), neg. no. 45865, inv. no. 40508 (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, violoncello by Domenico Galli, c. 1691, albumin print, before 1925, 21 x 12,5 cm (photograph), inv. no. 20816, donation Fritz von Harck (sec. Kunstgewerbe Musikinstrumente)

Reale Fotografia Giacomelli, hull, 16th/17th century, cliché, before 1935, 20 x 14,9 cm, inv. no. 105442, donation Luigi Vittorio Fossati Bellani (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)

Unidentified photographer, merry-go-round, 18th century, silver-gelatin print, before 1932, 16 x 21,9 cm (photograph), inv. no. 79938, donation Luigi Vittorio Fossati Bellani (sec. Kunstgewerbe Holz)




© KHI in Florence | 25.01.2020 18:53:58