The Fototeca Berenson
The collection contains about 300,000 photographs, many of them collected by Berenson himself from the 1880s until the time of his death in 1959. Many have notes on the back in his handwriting. Many show works of art before restoration, and others show images since destroyed. An important section, "Homeless paintings", contains photographs of works whose current location is unknown. The photographs are almost exclusively black and white in a variety of photographic media, such as albumen, gelatine, or carbon. About 3000 large-format photographs are stored separately. In addition, there is a considerable amount of documentary material in the form of clippings, notes and printed reproductions.
The photographs are arranged according to Berenson's original scheme, by school: Florence, Siena, Central Italy, Northern Italy, Lombardy, Venice, Southern Italy. Within each school they are arranged by artist, then by topography, followed by homeless. Paintings and drawings are arranged separately.
The main focus of the collection is on Italian painting and drawing from the mid-thirteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. This part of the collection continues to be developed through the acquisition of new materials and through photographic campaigns. Later periods are also represented but in smaller scale, without systematic updating. There is also material on medieval painting, arranged topographically; manuscript illumination, arranged according to present location; archeology; Byzantine art and architecture, arranged both by artist and by location; and non-Italian art, arranged by country. Finally a section of 8000 photographs is devoted to the art of the Far East, India and Islam.
In addition to the original Berenson nucleus, collections of prints, glass plates, negatives and transparencies have entered the Fototeca. These include the collections of Emilio Marcucci (nineteenth-century projects for the completion of various Florentine monuments), George Kaftal (representations of saints in Italian painting of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), Henry Clifford (painting thirtheenth to seventeenth centuries), Giorgio Castelfranco (Italian art thirteenth to twentieth centuries), Giannino Marchig (restoration), Frederick Hartt (Michelangelo, Giulio Romano), Giuseppe Marchini (Italian art and stained glass), and Craig H. Smyth (Renaissance painting and drawing).
There is a small collection of micropublications and microfiche (162,386 frames): L=index photographique de l'art en France (95,648); Sotheby's Pictorial Archive - Old Master Paintings (45,472); Christie's Pictorial Archive Italian School (9,898); Christie's Pictorial Archive - New York 1977-95 Old Master Paintings & Drawings (11,368). The microfilm of the Bartsch Corpus comprises about 42,000 frames.
Visitors and readers have direct access to the photographic material during normal library hours. Preliminary projects in digitizing sections of the collection and plans for an online catalogue are currently being studied.
An appointment is advised ( ).