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Architecture in Photography

Architectural historians as photographers

If formerly architectural or art historians could not dispense with the sketchbook and pencil as part of their professional equipment, now they especially use the camera to capture the objects of their studies. Many photos taken by well-known researchers will be found in the holdings of the Photothek. Often they differ from those of commercial photo studios especially in their choice of details. The Florentine Palazzo Boni Antinori in the Via Tornabuoni, for example, was invariably photographed by Alinari, Brogi or Barsotti in an oblique view seen from the left. In their photographs the building appears isolated from its urban context: an architectural solitaire. The architectural historian Ralph Lieberman, who has especially been active as a photographer since the 1980s, by contrast, focuses not on the isolation of the building but on its incorporation in the urban fabric, in order to draw conclusions about Florentine urban development in the Quattrocento. The façade, as he sees it, forms the termination of several streets (Via Tornabuoni, Via Rondinelli, Via degli Agli), and he uses his camera to provide the visual proofs of this. Marvin Trachtenberg, an expert on Italian Renaissance architecture, photographed the objects of his research quite systematically, and many of his shots were used as illustrations in his publications. Other photographs reveal the interest of architectural historians in particular details, as do those of Michael Braune. He researched medieval residential and defensive buildings in Tuscany and documented them minutely by detail shots of their stonework and arcade construction. In art-historical photo archives like the Florentine Photothek we thus find in frequent cases shots of the same building taken by several architectural historians and professional photographers, in which different aspects, interests and viewpoints are reflected.


Brogi: Florence, Palazzo Antinori, before 1898, albumin print, 25,1 x 20,4 cm (KHI, inv. no. 2591)

Ferdinando Barsotti: Florence, Palazzo Antinori, before 1963, barytpaper, 25,5 x 20 cm (KHI, inv. No 183182)

Ralph Lieberman: Florence, Palazzo Antinori, 1988, barytpaper, 25,2 x 20,3 cm (KHI, inv. no. 475424)

Ralph Lieberman: Florence, Palazzo Antinori, 1988, barytpaper, 25,2 x 20,3 cm (KHI, inv. no. 475424)

Marvin Trachtenberg: Florence, Campanile, 1965/66, baryt paper, 16,6 x 22,7 cm (KHI, inv. no. 215459)

Marvin Trachtenberg: Pisa, Santa Maria della Spina, 1965/67, barytpaper, 22,6 x 17,7 cm (KHI, inv. no. 616447)

Marvin Trachtenberg: Cloister of Santissima Trinità e Santa Mustiola, Sovicille, 1965/1967, barytpaper (KHI, inv. no. 616464)

Marvin Trachtenberg: San Martino, Lucca, 1965/1967, barytpaper, 17,4 x 24 cm (KHI, inv. no. 322434)

Marvin Trachtenberg: Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, 1966 barytpaper (KHI, inv. no. 215414)

Michael Braune: Palazzo in Via Camoglia 87, Siena, detail of the façade, before 2000, barytpaper, 19 x 18,1 cm (KHI, inv. no. 610063)

Michael Braune: Via dell'Abbadia, Siena, before 2000, barytprint, 19,2 x 18,1 cm (KHI, inv. no. 610073)

Michael Braune: Palazzo in Via Camollia 185, Siena, detail of the façade, before 2000, barytprint, 18 x 23,9 cm (KHI, inv. no. 610057)




© KHI in Florence | 15.08.2020 12:41:53