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Announcements | 15/11/2023

The Royal Photographic Archive of the Uffizi is online

It contains more than 45,000 photographs taken using various techniques

The Royal Photographic Archive of the Uffizi, established by the director of the Florentine Galleries Corrado Ricci in 1903 with the intention of endowing the museum with a photographic collection available to the public, now lands on the museum's website and becomes accessible to everyone.(https://fotoinventari.uffizi.it/it/ricerca-archivio-regio)

The archive, thought to be lost but rediscovered in 2018 during restoration work in some long-closed spaces that were opened again during work on the Nuovi Uffizi, contains more than 45,000 photographs taken using various techniques (albumins, silver salt gelatines, charcoal prints, halftone photomechanical prints and collotypes).

These are mainly reproductions, made by about 300 photographers, editors and printers, of Italian and foreign artworks, but also monuments, landscapes, people and historical events not only from Florence (such as, for example, the destruction of the Scalzi church frescoed by Tiepolo in Venice during the First World War or the construction of the Malamocco dam, also in the Venetian area). The time span covered by these images goes from the dawn of photography in the mid-19th century to the 1960s.

The collection was rediscovered five years ago still inside large original containers, custom-made in the early 20th century to facilitate the consultation and storage of photographic material. Three vertical cabinets contained the small and medium format images in 180 drop-down drawers, two longitudinal cabinets with 40 sliding shelves housed the large formats and 41 wooden and cardboard boxes were dedicated to the topographical section of the collection. The photographs were arranged in alphabetical order by photographer and location and placed in numbered folders, accompanied by lists and precise indications of the authors of the reproduced works and their images. Immediately after their discovery, the images were dusted and the cabinets and boxes restored. The collection was then digitised.

The consultation database makes it possible to browse the archive by searching artists, works, photographers, locations and photographic techniques. It is possible to view both the front and back of the photographs of art, people, landscapes, monuments, European cities and exotic places, also by scrolling through their folders and viewing their original listings.

The discovery of this precious collection, which represents one of the most important and oldest historical photo libraries in Italian museums, was accompanied by research into the origins of the collection and the creation of a study group involving experts in conservation and the history of photography from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the Universities of Florence and Udine and the Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz.

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