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Architecture in Photography

Viewpoint and framing

The architect and theorist of art Leon Battista Alberti had in his treatise De Pictura (1435) postulated the metaphor of the picture as an open window, through which the eye of the observer is led out into the world. Especially in painting of the 19th century the window motif experienced a powerful reception in numerous paintings. It may be accidental that one of the ‘incunabula’ of the history of photography, the heliography dating to the early autumn of 1826 by the Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (credited with the 'invention' of photography), also shows a view from a window. At any rate architectural or city views shown through window frames, doorways or archways soon became an iconographic constant in architectural photography. Commercial photographic studios such as Anderson in Rome or Fratelli Alinari in Florence especially recurred to this motif, which undoubtedly found favour among their tourist clientele. But this pictorial tradition also left its mark on the work of photographers who mainly worked for an academic or scientific community. Hilde Lotz-Bauer pointed her camera at the Cathedral of Florence and its Campanile from a window high up on the Torre dei Manelli, while Luigi Artini used for the same purpose a narrow aperture in the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. To take a photo of the whole façade of Santa Maria Assunta in Milan, Roberto Sigismondi chose as standpoint for his camera the archway leading into the forecourt of the church. Here too the round arch determines the composition of the photo and forms an elegant frame for the baroque façade.


Carlo Naya?: Piazza San Marco, Venice, after 1868, albumin print, 24 x 18,2 cm (KHI, inv. no. 464799)

Domenico Anderson: Siena, Arco di San Giuseppe and Campanile of Palazzo Pubblico, before 1913, gelatine-silver print, 26,1 x 20,1 cm (KHI, inv. no. 137403)

Romualdo Moscioni: Castello Orsini, Gravina in Puglia, 1891/92, albumin print, 27,9 x 39,5 cm (KHI, inv. no. 4279)

Fratelli Alinari: Siena, View of San Domenico, before 1908, albumin print, 20 x 22,8-23,1 cm (KHI, inv. no. 30155)

Domenico Anderson: View from Rome, before 1930, gelatine-silver print, 25,5 x 19,7 cm (KHI, inv. no. 61669)

Studio fotografico Vasari: View over Rome from Monte Picino, around 1900?, gelatine-silver print, 19,9 x 25,5 cm (KHI, inv. no. 183472)

Hilde Lotz-Bauer: Florence, courtyard of Palazzo Pitti, before 1940, barytpaper, 17,2 x 12,2 cm (KHI, inv. no. 382306)

Hilde Lotz-Bauer: Florence Palazzo Vecchio, before 1940, barytpaper, 16,4 x 10,6 cm (KHI, inv. no. 382242)

Hilde Lotz-Bauer: Florence, View from Torre dei Manelli to the Cathedral, before 1943, barytpaper, 17 x 12,3 cm (KHI, inv. no. 491013)

Luigi Artini: Florence, View from Palazzo Vecchio to the Cathedral, 1987, barytpaper, 9,5 x 23,6 cm (KHI, inv. no. 451477)

Roberto Sigismondi: Milan, Santa Maria Assunta (Certosa di Garegnano), 1989, barytpaper (KHI, inv. no. 582158)

Andrea Lensini: Lucca, Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, 2008, print on R-C paper, 23,7 x 17,5 cm (KHI, inv. no. 604109)




© KHI in Florence | 18.02.2020 14:05:02