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Fratelli Alinari, Photographs of Italian Monuments, Florence [post 1865]

post 1865
Uffizi Library
Printed volumes  
50 x 83 cm
S.M.Demidoff/1, inventario 30462
Volume bound in leather and gilded bronze; the centre of the front cover bears the motto of the Demidov family written in Latin, 'Acta non verba', surmounted by the princely crown. All the photographs in the Album bear the Fratelli Alinari embossed stamp and non-sequential numbers. On the top left of the preliminary page, the volume bears a label with the inscription 'Annexe aux Beaux Arts EJ'; at the bottom, the oval stamp of origin bears the inscription 'Bibliothèque de San Donato'.

This impressive photographic album with views of Italian cities and monuments came from the dispersed 'Bibliothèque de San Donato', the library of the Villa that Nikolaj Demidov built in Florence starting in 1828, which was later expanded by his sons Pavel (1798-1840) and Anatolij (1813-1870). The album bears an elegant label that probably refers to its former location in the library.

We cannot determine which one of the Demidov brothers decided to put the collection together, whether Anatolij or his nephew and heir Pavel Pavlovič. Nonetheless it is certain that Anatolij decided to leave Florence in 1859 to move to Paris, as he was disappointed by the events that led to the downfall of the Grand Duchy and the annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Italy. The volume is devoid of chronological indications, but some photos can be dated as far back as 1865, as they show a horse-drawn omnibus whizzing past Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria - in service since that very year - and the statue of Dante in the centre of Piazza S. Croce in Florence, which was sculpted by Enrico Pazzi in 1865, the year of the first celebration for the centenary of Dante Alighieri’s birth.

The Album entered the Uffizi Library as a 'gift by the Demidoff family' in June 1975, after the auction of the furnishings of Villa Demidoff in Pratolino, which was arranged by the last heir of the family, Paolo Karageorgevič, in 1969.


F.Borroni Salvadori, I Demidoff collezionisti a Firenze, “Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa”, Classe di Lettere e Filosofia, s.III, vol.XI, 3, 1981, pp. 937-1003; C.Basagni, P.Lopez Marcos, Traces of the “Museo Firenze com’era" in the Uffizi: the archive of Piero Aranguren (Prato 1911- Florence 1988), donated to the Library ; Sotheby’S of London, Catalogo dell’arredamento della villa Demidoff presso Firenze venduto per odine di S.A.R. il Principe Paolo di Jugoslavia. 21, 22, 23 e 24 aprile 1969 alla villa Demidoff, London, 1969.

Text by
Carla Basagni
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