Digital Photothek

The Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is one of the most important academic photo archives in the world for research into Italian art and architecture from the Late Antiquity to the modern day, with a focus on Middle and Upper Italy. Part of the photo archive, which has been growing since 1897 and currently contains 630.000 photographs, is also available online. A quarter of the inventory has already been academically catalogued in APS-MIDAS: Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur

The digital inventory of the Photothek comprises the negatives digitalised by the institute and digital photographs, which are subject to KHI copyright. The Digital Photothek provides high-resolution pictures in optimum quality for academic purposes.

The content of the Digital Photothek is subject to protection in accordance with German copyright law and to restricted use. In using this site, you are agreeing to comply with the terms of use:

  • Reproductions, for example, copies and printouts, are permitted only for private use or for use in public lectures and teaching in schools, universities, and other educational institutions.
  • The production and distribution of reproductions, including those in academic journals, is permitted only with the express written permission of the KHI in Florence.
  • The permission of the trustees of a work of art may be required under Italian law. The user of the reproduction is solely responsible for obtaining this permission. The KHI does not guarantee that it can assist with contacting the trustees of the work of art in question.

Individual collections

The Individual Collections incorporate special fields of the holdings of the Digital Photothek. The pre-selection enables a detailed search within the particular section: „Georgia”, „Fondo Mario Polesel”, „Print Collection”, „Boboli Gardens”, „Fondo Hilde Lotz-Bauer”, „Cimelia Photographica”, „Barbara Schleicher”, „Palazzo Grifoni”, „Stained glass windows in Assisi”, „Fondo Trachtenberg”, „Mudejarismo and the Moorish Revival”.

Cimelia Photographica

Historical photographs from earlier than 1900 have a source value above and beyond their documentary intention and, therefore, they have to be considered not only as research tools but also research objects. The Cimelia Photographica project started off the systematic study of our significant historical holdings (c. 1850-1900). This study includes the high-resolution digitalization of all the photographic mounts. This way not only are the photographs themselves recorded, but also the traces that their archiving history has left behind.


As part of the “Medieval Georgia in a Cross-Cultural Perspective” project, Dror Maayan completed a photo campaign for the KHI in Georgia in 2006. As a result, we now possess a unique set of documentation of the medieval monuments of this cultural landscape. A significant set of more than one thousand photos can already be consulted in the Digital Photothek. The Georgia campaign forms the first “photo island” that expands the inventory of the Photothek beyond the boundaries of Italian art history.

Fondo Mario Polesel

The collection of more than 1400 photographs were taken between 1990 and 2010 by the photographer Mario Polesel for the art historian Ann Markham-Schulz in the framework of her research project about Renaissance sculpture in Venice, the Veneto and Croatia. For her studies, the US scholar, renowned as one of the specialists in the field, also documents in her work numerous lesser known works of arts, which include 400 wooden crucifixes. The presentation of this material in the Photothek offers the possibility to consult it, making it available for future research.

Print collection

The “collection of illustrations suitable for comparative studies”, which formed the origins of today’s Photo Library in 1897, includes not only photographic material but also engravings and prints. The collection of more than one thousand prints is stored separately as Rariora to protect and preserve it. The prints are gradually being digitalised with high resolution and transferred to the Digital Photo Library for the purposes of academic consultation.

Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens are an integral part of the Palazzo Pitti complex in Florence. Work on the garden began in 1549 in close coordination with the work of transforming the Palazzo Pitti into the grand-ducal residence, as initiated by Cosimo I. But a series of enlargements and reorganizations periodically remodelled the Gardens also in the following centuries. Some of these interventions comprised the installation of statues and sculptures, both antique and modern, in fountains, along the ilex-walks, in grottoes and elsewhere in the park. The result is that the Gardens remain to this day an extraordinary open-air gallery of sculptures, which the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, in liaison with the Administration of the Boboli Gardens, began to document in 2008.

Fondo Hilde Lotz-Bauer

In her work, Hilde Lotz-Bauer (1907-1999) unites the views of the art historian and the professional photographer. The photographs that she took between 1939 and 1943 in Florence document the condition of many monuments before their destruction in the Second World War. Her photographs of Tuscan Renaissance sculpture were commissioned by the then director of the institute, Friedrich Kriegbaum.

Barbara Schleicher

The restorer Barbara Schleicher (*1937 in Heidelberg) is internationally recognized as an expert especially for polychrome wood sculptures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the years 1960-2014 she worked for the superintendence, churches and museums in Florence, Urbino, Arezzo, Siena, etc. She photographed the works of art before, during and after their conservation. The photo documentations were donated to the Photothek in 2017. Barbara Schleicher’s photographs illustrate the various conditions of the works of art and provide insight into the work processes of art restauration and conservation, but they also have an aesthetic intrinsic value.


As part of the SNSF project “Mudejarismo and Moorish Revival in Europe” at the University of Zurich, the appropriation and reinterpretation of the Islamic heritage of al-Andalus during the Middle Ages and the global 19th century were researched and published in 2021. The photographic material on Ibero-Islamic, Mudejar and Neo-Moorish architecture was created in collaboration with Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, with the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz responsible for organizing and carrying out the photographic campaigns in Italy.

Palazzo Grifoni

The Palazzo Grifoni on the Piazza Santissima Annunziata is an outstanding example of Florentine palace architecture of the Renaissance. Ugolino Grifoni, secretary of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I, commissioned the architect Bartolomeo Ammannati to build it between 1561 and 1564. The Budini Gattai family, which acquired the building in 1890, then proceeded to a total renovation of its interior. The lavishly decorated and frescoed rooms on the piano nobile are among the most important, and at the same time best preserved, examples of upper-middleclass interior decoration in Florence at the turn of the century. The photographic campaign, conducted before the Photothek moved into its new home (January 2010), comprehensively documents for the first time the decoration of the Budini Gattai apartments and at the same time places them at the centre of scientific interest. A photographic documentation of the architecture by Ammannati will follow.

Stained glaswindows in Assisi

In 2018, Ghigo Roli was commissioned by the Photothek to photograph the stained glass windows of the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. Due to their size, location, and the medium itself, the stained glass windows of the upper and lower church are considered particularly difficult to photograph. Ghigo Roli took 500 detailed, high-resolution digital photographs of the stained glass windows. Furthermore, he realized a high-resolution gigapixel photo of each window at a scale of 1:1. In addition to a telescopic tripod and high-resolution digital cameras, robotic heads were used to take hundreds of pictures, which were then stitched together using special software (see

The Photothek dedicates this special collection of the Assisi stained glass windows to the memory of Prof. Dr. Frank Martin.

Fondo Trachtenberg

The “Fondo Trachtenberg” is an excellent example of how historians of architecture and art approach their objetcs of study with the help of a camera. These photographs were taken by the US-American architectural historian Marvin Trachtenberg during a photo campaign in Florence and Tuscany, which he conducted together with Heinrich Klotz between 1965 and 1967. Here the eye of the young researcher unites with that of a photographer. Later on, many of these photographs were used to illustrate the publications of the renowned scholar. The photographs were donated by Marvin Trachtenberg to the Photothek.

Casa Zuccari

The house of Federico Zuccari (1540-1609) was handed over to the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence in 1987. It has accommodated the institute’s offices and event rooms since 2005. The building and its fittings should embody the standing of the painter within Florentine society. The frescoes in this artist’s house are documented in full and accessible in the Digital Photothek.