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"Trésors d'art à la portée de tous" – Photographers’ catalogues

The catalogue and the musée imaginaire

The list of images – the heart of the catalogue – presents the “treasures” of the musee imaginaire (A. Malraux) that the photographer can offer his audience. The types of subjects presuppose a selection process conducted on the basis of sources or advice from art historians. The list of negatives therefore provides a map of the “new” items that deserve to be reproduced, and were already christened as such by historiography and guidebooks or, more rarely and especially in the case of professionals active in local milieu, presented as such by the photographer.
The different listing methods, ranging from brief references to complex ekphrases that include aesthetic comments or bibliographic references, and the relationships between the texts and the illustrations are extremely interesting. Even the choices of the arrangements (format, topographical, alphabetical, by object type or subject) are indicative of different cultural approaches, commercial aims and of the various types of readers-users the photographer envisioned for the catalogue.
A study of the list of images reveals cases of renumbering and/or progressive replacement of the negatives, common practice among photographers who are constantly engaged in updating their inventories. Therefore, catalogues are essential, yet at times problem-filled sources when it comes to matters of attributions and dating, so that their contents have to be continuously checked against the prints on-hand.


Fratelli Alinari Catalogue, 1863: synthetic list of paintings photographed in the Uffizi

List of negatives of Naples with long descriptions and references to bibliographic sources in the 1873 Fratelli Alinari Catalogue

Guida per Napoli e suoi contorni by Luigi Galani (1861) used by Fratelli Alinari to select shots of the city and mentioned in the catalogue of 1873

Fratelli Alinari Catalogue of Rome (1912) in the unusual format of a partially illustrated guide to the city

A page from 1909 Anderson catalogue with icons of the available photographs

The 1865 Brogi Catalogue with an uncommon arrangement by subject in alphabetical order which was not used in subsequent editions

The 1903 Hanfstaengls Gallerie catalogue arranged in an order (by artist and place), particularly useful for art historians

Dual listing of photos of “paintings from the engraving” (quadri presi dall’incisione) and “original paintings” (quadri originali) in the 1885 Moscioni Catalogue

Brogi prints of a painting by Giulio Romano “from the engraving” (more easily legible) and “taken from the original” (FZ, inv. 73584-73585)

The 1891 Brogi catalogue with reproductions of ornamental details arranged by type, for use by decorators

Brogi print from negative 9103 (“Capitals of columns”) listed in the 1891 catalogue (KHI, inv. 31644)

Brogi print from negative 9104 (“Capitals of columns”) listed in the 1891 catalogue (KHI, inv. 31645)

Complex indexing system of the Fratelli Alinari catalogues from the 1920s: by number, by artist, by subject (“Personaggi”), and by place

The catalogue as a problematic source: two Brogi prints of different subjects but with the same number (KHI, inv. 403550, 218884)

The catalogue as problematic source: two Brogi prints of the same subject, with the same number but derived from two different shots (KHI, inv. 10700, 112129)

The catalogue as a problematic source: two prints made from the same negative but with different numbers after the renumbering of the archive wanted by Vittorio Alinari in 1890 (FZ, inv. 144827, SUP 381)




© KHI in Florence | 04.12.2021 18:18:38