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On the reverse

Some notes on photographic images from the

Warburg Institute Photographic Collection

Katia Mazzucco

On the reverse of art-documentary photographs we can find historical metadata on photographs themselves. These can provide critical notes on the pictures (re)presented in the photographs and can be used to discuss different ideas of the image(s) of the work of art immortalised – sometimes monumentalised – on the photographs.

The space and position of art-documentary photographs is what is represented or constructed in the work of art, and what is reproduced on the pictures. Furthermore, space and position are conditions of the photographic object within a collection or archive: the photograph has a recto, a verso, a support, a frame, and many visual and textual documentary layers, referred to the optical and critical framing of the work of art, its position within a classification system, and to pictures and their publications with a given frame, cut, detail. The art-documentary photograph is at the same time a picture and an image of the work of art.

The examples selected here focus on the early history of the Warburg Photographic Collection.

The issue of Warburg Kreis’ praxis and theory of art documentary photography has not yet been discussed[1]. A short history of the Warburg Photographic Collection can be written by singling out and rethinking some crucial moments of the history of the Institute itself. These moments are: the first steps of Aby Warburg’s career as a scholar; the shift from private library to research institute under Fritz Saxl's direction in 1920 and the construction of the library building in 1925-26; the move to London in 1933; the work of Rudolf Wittkower as curator; the re-arrangement of the collections in its current site in Bloomsbury completed in 1958.

During his lifetime Aby Warburg collected an important Bildersammlung, which significantly increased after the move of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW) to London in 1933. The photographic collection became one of the main tools of the Warburg Institute's dissemination activities, mainly by means of photographic exhibitions.

Examples from the historical materials preserved at the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection can contribute to the debate. Furthermore, these documents can shed light on the discussion and definition of the documental value of photographs of works of art. Even in the absence of Warburg’s theoretical or critical texts on photography and photographic collections, we may assemble fragments and documents to shed light on this perspective on method[2].

1.Photographs as a tool. (Bibliographic) Wort and (photographic) Bild

In the Winter term 1888, the 22-year-old Aby Warburg was one of the students attending the first Art History Seminar that August Schmarsow held in Florence. Schmarsow was lecturing on Italian sculpture in the Circolo Filologico in Palazzo Ferroni, as well as teaching smaller classes in his private apartments on the history of Italian sculpture and the relationship between Masaccio and Masolino. These seminars somehow represent the beginnings of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence as well as being a decisive experience in Aby Warburg’s intellectual biography. A number of the letters that Warburg sent to his family in January 1889 testify the beginnings of his collecting books and photographs: that is to say, the beginnings of his library:

I must here lay the foundation of my library and photographic collection, both of which cost much money and represent something of lasting value [Ich muss hier den Grundstock zu meiner Bibliothek und Photographiensmlg [Sammlung] legen und beides kostet viel Geld uns repräsentiert bleibenden Werth].(Warburg Institute Archive (WIA), Family Correspondence (FC), Aby Warburg to Charlotte Warburg, 07/01/1889)

I must now have all the aids (books, photographs) close at hand [Ich muss eben alle Hilfsmittel (Bücher, Phot.) an der Hand haben]. (WIA, FC, Aby Warburg to Charlotte Warburg, 27/01/1889)

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:st george r 2.jpgIt is sensible to suppose that, as a student in Bonn, Warburg was already collecting photographs. And it is significant that an explicit reference to documentary photographs of art history can be dated to his first visit to Florence in 1888. Italy – and most notably Florence and a number of other historical cities – was in those years one of the most important centres for the production and commerce of photographs of works of art (Settimelli [1977], Maffioli, Quintavalle [2003]). Reconsidering a historiographic cliché, Florence was (one of) the birthplace(s) not only of art history but also of art history documentary photography. The two issues went together: on the one hand, photographs aided scholars while also shaping their perception and vision of the works of art; on the other hand, the art historical debate significantly contributed to the improvement of photography, both from a technical and an aesthetic point of view (Caraffa [2009]).

The Photographic Collection of the Warburg Institute still preserves some of these very early, and therefore foundational, photographs from Aby Warburg’s original collection. One of these is a picture of the Donatello schiacciato prospettico with Saint George and the Dragon, on the so-called predella of the Saint George niche in Orsanmichele.

Here, on the recto of this visual document, we have the picture of a work of art. More precisely, what we can see is a detail with a specific frame and cut from the Orsanmichele building: the frame partially cuts out the architectural context and isolates the scene with Saint George riding the horse and fighting the Dragon.

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:st george v 2.jpgThis is a good black and white albumen photograph: considering that the subject of the photograph is a relief, we do not have mistakesin the grey values translation. The chemical emulsion used to prepare the negative plates reacted very slowly to green, yellow and red, and quickly to blue: the result on the print were dark grey tones both for bright yellow and deep green, and almost white for a night blue. In relation to the standards of the second half of the XIX Century, the translation in grey values on a photograph of a well-lighted, almost two-dimensional, quite a-chromatic object can be defined as “good”.

From literally another point of view, that is from the back, the verso of this photograph, we can see a palimpsest of the successive marks: we can say that we are facing an archival stratification.

One of the English marks on the verso represents a terminus post quem: the photograph has been marked after the incorporation of the Warburg Institute into the University of London in 1944, when the Institute was based in the Imperial Institute Building in South Kensighton. The other mark tells us that the picture on the recto was classified under the category “Religious Iconography”, one of the categories created within the context of the re-arrangement of the collection in London. Some later handwritten notes specify the subcategory of the subject – “St. George” – and offer brief information about the work of art – author, genre, place. The photograph has been mounted on canvas – a very common preservation praxis for albumen print. In backlight, on the original verso of the photograph, we see Aby Warburg’s mark and date: «A.[by] M.[oritz] Warburg / 14 . I . 89 / Flor.[enz]». During the Winter Term 1888-89 Warburg was elaborating the «Draft for a Critique of the Laocoon in the art of the Quattrocento in Florence», discussing «the development of the Pictorial in the reliefs by Ghiberti (Entwurf zu einer Kritik des Laokoon an der Kunst des Quattrocento in Florenz. Die Entwicklung des Malerischen in den reliefs des Ghibertias a case study for a paper he gave in Bonn the following May(Ghelardi [2001]). The fragmentary text testifies a discussion of Lessing’s concept of the Transitorisch within the pictorial elements of the sculptural relief, as, for instance, the use of perspective.

Photography could contribute, and even influence, such a discussion for its capacity to indexically project volumes on a bi-dimensional surface, which would in turn be subjected to the rules of optics.

In the letters quoted above, the young Warburg mentioned both books and photographs – here is selected one of them – as Hilfsmittel, tools, necessary for research purposes and as Grundstock for his Bibliothek and Photographienssammlung. Something to make use of, and, literally, handle. Books and photographs together, as aids: we may see here an example of research praxis, and a practical aspect of the Wort-Bild heuristic binomial.

2.Photographs as media. On method, in detail

In the introductory pages of Warburg’s early paper on Florentine portraiture published in 1902, we read:

A stay of some years in Florence, researches in the archives there, the progress of photography, and also the local and chronological limitation of the topic, have emboldened me to publish, in the present paper, a supplement to Burckhardt’s Essay on “The Portrait” in his Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte von Italien. (Warburg [1902]: 94)

And again, in the following pages:

[…] These marvellous portrait heads by Domenico Ghirlandaio have still to receive their critical due, whether as unique documents of cultural history or, in-art historical terms, as incunabulum of Italian portraiture. This applies even to the life-size portrait of Lorenzo il Magnifico himself, though it is the sole surviving, authentic, datable, contemporary portrait of him in the monumental fresco style by a master of the first rank. Although the work has long been known to art history, no one has yet performed the simple, obvious duty of having a large-scale detail photograph taken, or at least subjecting the image to a thorough scrutiny. This can be accounted for, to some extent, by the fact that the fresco is very high up, seldom well lit, and even hard to discern in detail. (Warburg [1902]: 101)

Three voices are recalled and evoked within the incipit, explicit and the introductory pages of this essay: voices that one may read as fragments for a manifesto on historical method.

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:ghirlandaio pol giul v 2.jpgIt is a great error to speak of the affairs of this world in absolute terms, without discrimination, and – so to speak – by rule; for they almost always involve distinctions and exceptions, because circumstances vary, and they can never be subject to one single measure. These distinctions and exceptions are not to be found in books: this must be taught by discretion. (Guicciardini [1512-1530]: 89)

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:ghirlandaio piero giov v 2.jpgThis first voice is Francesco Guicciardini’s: it is a quotation from the Ricordi Politici e Civili as incipit of the essay. It represents a clear appeal against the indiscriminate application of given and preconceived rules in approaching human lives and historical events. The second voice is Jakob Burckhardt’s, whose work was considered by Warburg a seminal and outstanding example for its wide cultural perspective on artistic phenomena. The third voice, in the explicit, is Cesare Guasti’s, the archivist of the Opera del Duomo and the director in 1874, of the Archivio Centrale di Stato in Florence, an erudite historiographer and editor of the correspondence by the Florentine notary Sir Lapo Mazzei. Warburg quotes from the introduction to the correspondence:

The living words of men who have slept for four centuries and more in the tomb, but whom love can awaken and usefully consult. (Guasti [1880]: II)

In Warburg’s own words, he was emboldened in following – even critically – Burckhardt’s footsteps in a long fieldwork in Florence, in an immersion in archival research, the clear limitation of the topic, and the progress of photography[3].

This work on portraiture was recalled by Warburg in the 1925/1926 Winter Term KBW seminar and defined as a «refinement (Verbesserung)»of the method applied in the 1902 essay[4]. The assignment for the students attending the seminar was a paper on a Florentine cassone depicting a torneo in Piazza Santa Croce and preserved in the Jarves Collection, Yale. The cassone has been, and still was then, an object of study by Warburg and at the core of another photographic story. Warburg worked hard to obtain a colour reproduction of the Yale cassone since the beginning of the XX Century[5]. We can gather from some notes on the Tagebuch of the Warburg Library that still in 1927 Warburg asked for the enlargement of one of the cassone pictures within the KBW collection (WIA III.15.1.3, Tagebücher der KBW, III, 24/08/1927; cfr. Warburg [1926-1929]). A folio picture of it would then be included in the 28/29-Bilderatlas-plate of the Mnemosyne.

Warburg gave to the student attending the 1925/26 seminar two maxims as scholarly mottoes:

1. We look for our ignorance and beat it – with the help of our friends – wherever we find it.

2. God dwells in minutiae.

[1. Wir suchen unsere Ignoranz auf und schlagen Sie – mit Hilfe unserer Freunde – wo wir sie finden.

2. Der Liebe Gott steckt im Detail].

(WIA, GC, Aby Warburg to Johannes Geffcken, 16/01/1926)

Here we have some examples of the relationship between the advent of a technical-aesthetic standard in photography and the emergence of a comparative method and detail paradigm in Art History, beyond stylistic evaluations, or expertise.

The progress of photography could help in beating (visual) ignorance. We may argue that the detail paradigm, within the context of Warburg Kulturwissenschaft, has also a photographic perspective and quality, or better: was fed and reinforced by the technical and visual potentiality of photography.

3.First shot and dissemination: the image of the work of art and its media-exhistence

In 1904 Warburg published a short article on a painting by Benedetto Ghirlandaio located in Aigueperse that in his opinion should have been included in the exhibition Primitifs français, held in Paris that year. Ghirlandaio's work was identified in 1886 in an article published by Paul Mantz on the “Gazette des Beaux Arts” that, however, did not include a photographic reproduction of the painting. In 1902, Warburg unsuccessfully asked both Eugène Müntz and the “Gazette des Beaux Arts” to see a photograph of the painting (WIA GC, 27 aprile 1902, Eugène Müntz to Aby Warburg; 2 giugno 1902, Auguste Marguillier to Aby Warburg). In March of the following year, thanks to his own initiative, Warburg obtained the picture by a local photographer. The photo, however, was of a a low quality because of the bad lighting conditions, therefore Warburg commissioned other reproductions (WIA GC, 16 marzo 1903, Manufacture Lyonnaise de Matières Colorantes to Aby Warburg). This picture owned by Warburg is mentioned again in 1906 by August Schmarsow and, in 1914, Warburg himself sent a copy with his article to collector Jacques Doucet, who, between 1908 and 1917, put together an important library and photo-collection, which are now part of the INHA library (WIA GC, 5 marzo 1906, August Schmarsow to Cornelius Hofstede de Groot; 15 marzo 1914, Jacques Doucet to Aby Warburg).

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:b ghirlandaio article 2.jpg

Mantz supplied no reproduction of the painting; and this was a particularly grave omission for someone like myself, engaged in a study of the relationship between Flemish and Italian art, and eager to discover how a Florentine artist – one whose presence in France was already well documented – might have conducted himself in a French atmosphere. At last, however, through a kind friend in Lyon, I have succeeded in obtaining a photograph of the painting and am happy to publish it for the first time in a Florentine journal, although it is far from satisfactory, having been taken in a very poor light. […] I expect shortly to be in a position to provide a more adequate reproduction. (Warburg [1904]: 219).

The aforementioned examples give a sense of Warburg's iconomania and of his idea of the dissemination of pictures as a professional duty for art historians, conceived as a distinctively deontological, and not only scholarly, principle.

For a long time, this first and actually bad picture commissioned by Warburg seemed to remain the only available reproduction of the painting in Aigueperse. It is possible here to appreciate the role of the recovering of a given image on the critical fortune of a given work of art; namely of Ghirlandaio’s painting and the connection between the commission to an Italian painter in France and the work of other artists engaged in that same period in the same area.

One may mention another important image in Warburg's studies: the Vatican Laocoon.

In 1905 it had been published the archaeological fragment of a right arm, interpreted as the original arm missing in the torso discovered in 1506 and later reintegrated in 1957. The design of an extended right arm, associated by Renaissance artists with the figure of the Trojan priest since its discovery, had then been substituted with the original flexed arm.It had been a kind of revolution – even if from a specialistic point of view – of the postural expression of the central figure of the group. Some panels of photographs arranged at the KBW in different occasions – and now themselves documented by photographs preserved at the Warburg Archive[6] show one of the most famous picture of the Laocoon, that is the Alinari's pre-restoration black and white photograph[7]. In 1970 Ernst Gombrich illustrated his Intellectual Biography of Warburg 's with this very photograph by Alinari. What is then the image of the Laocoon known by Warbug scholars, and by other scholars? It might be worth asking which one of the right arms of the Loaocoon has been entered in what has been described as the «collective visual (photographic-cum-digital) archive» (Johnson 2011: 156).

A consequence of photographic shot, of its relationship with previous mechanical reproductions, and of its dissemination and refractive index, is the critical fortune or even the pervasiveness of that image of the work of art. Tracing publication and dissemination of the pictures of a work of art in their contexts, significantly contributes to frame a perspective on the issue of rhetoric and (visual) topoi of historiography of art, that is on the ways of seeing and showing the art object. We may therefore talk about a visual lexicon that is pre-determined by the availability of pictures within a given user (viewer) base and about technical and aesthetic visual suitability that is determined by the perspective of the photographer, the scholar, the viewer (Johnson [2011]: 148 f.).

4.Adultered (visual) food. On reproductions and original

In Hamburg Warburg was involved in the Volksheim activity for popular education and participated to the discussions around the exhibitions program. In May 1905, he gave the inaugural lecture in occasion of one of these exhibitions, which presented photographic reproductions of the works of Dürer, while another exhibition was planned on Rembrandt engravings (Russell [2007]; Hurttig, Ketelsen [2012]). Many people attended the lecture, but very few of them visited the exhibition. In a report of activities published in 1907, Warburg wrote:

[…] I shall attempt to set out the personal misgivings that hold me back from advocating the use of “surrogates” […] to stimulate the popular appreciation of art.

[…] I myself collaborated on the initial Dürer exhibition; and I still maintain that the colour reproductions of Dürer drawings are the best of their kind that we can have. If they failed in their effect, this was because no interpreter was constantly present to help the visitors to look beyond the tough and unfamiliar historical shell of the work to its universal humanity.

[…] It was by seeing darkness as color that Rembrandt created a new way of expressing color trough halftones: and these are the very halftones that photography devours and destroys. Similarly, his etchings are made to be held in the hand, when they use the expressive power of black and white to reconstitute an inner image that is perceived as much larger: a process that crude mechanical enlargement puts into reverse. The result is a hydrocephalic monster from which the public expected to divine some of the most monumental effects ever achieved on a tiny scale. […] Of course the heliogravures would give pleasure, of a kind; but then that is not our aim. We have no right to mistake the agreeable sensation of filling a void with adulterated food for the response of a psyche regaled with a truly healthful diet. […] A technique whereby we use a surrogate to spare us a piece of work [namely a research mission] can only be described as a systematic obstruction of the emergence of an independent and informed interest in art. (Warburg [1907])

Warburg was clearly aware of both the potentials and the limitations of photography from a technical point of view (i.e. in relation to the question of light and plate’s sensitivity), from an aesthetic point of view (when he discusses, for example, the taste for particular pictures) and even from an ethical point of view (as in this unsuccessful attempt to use reproductions in order to stimulate curiosity and construct visual knowledge).

Whether or not the hermeneutic device failed, the photographs themselves failed in feeding visual knowledge.

Warburg experimented with different uses of photographs, both in terms of structure and as a device. The preparatory drafts for the lectures given by Warburg during his lifetime, where the text is often integrated with index and notes on the pictures, show a variety of modes in using photographs: introductory text, notes about the slideshow, conclusion; introductory text, notes about the slide show and about the panels with photographs, conclusion; introductory text, notes about the panels, conclusion.

The image of the «historical shell», the patina or even the fur sedimented on an image, recall another figure used by Warburg, referring temporal metaphor and images: Leitmuschel. The term can be found in different notes and fragments, most of the time in relation to examples of appearances of a given image – as a Pathosformel – within a given context, but also in relation to the use of photographs on a panel to show and collect this surfacings. The device of panels with photographs had been frequently used at the KBW during seminars, as for instance in the 1927 Winter term seminar on the method for a kunstwissenschaftliche Kulturwissenschaft. In the introductory notes about the panels with photographs specifically arranged for this occasion, Warburg wrote:

As a conclusion tonight, I will illustrate this method once again through motives to be in­tended, so to speak, as Leitmuschel between the layers of centuries: the posthumous life of Roman triumphal arch, of the Greek-mythical Gestaltung of the dying hero, of the Muses and of the Medea. [Diese Methode will ich nun / heute Ab[en]d. z.[u] Schluss noch einmal / durch die Schichten des Jahrhunderts gleichsam als Leitmuschel / durch [?] Motive aufzeigen / An dem Nachleben / des römischen Triumphbogens / an der griechisch mytischen / Gestaltung des sterbenden Heroen / der Musen / und der Medea].(WIA III.113.4 (Burckhardt-Übungen), Schlussübung, fol. 20)

Leitmuschel or Leitfossil is a late XIX-Century term extracted from the lexicon of geology. «Fossil»is one of the metaphors used in the theory of photography to discuss its indexicality (Michaels [2007]): not a footprint in itself, nor its picture, but the material encrustation around it as well as the material form and support of its imprinted image. In this regard, we may use Warburg's term as hermeneutical fiction to describe the nature of art documentary photography as the fossil of a fossil, a fossil times two: the photographic reproduction of the work of art, considered in its turn as the fossil of a visual culture's fragment.

5. Rhetoric of disposal. Tilted Ninfa

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:san zeno v 2.jpgDuring the late 1920s, Warburg's work was concentrated on the project for the Mnemosyne, his last unfinished publication that would collect his last papers and create a visual atlas.

In one of the panels for the so called «last version» of the Bilderatlas, we find a clear visualisation of a mechanism of Warburg's montage, and an enlightening example of the issue of the orientation of (photographic) image.

On plate 46 we see two different pictures of a relief inserted on a pillar of the crypt of San Zeno in Verona. One is a photograph of the whole pillar in its context; one is a detail of the relief. These two photos are juxtaposed within a composition of pictures of different epiphanies – or fossils – of the Ninfa.

During his last trip in Italy, Warburg visited Verona and obtained several photographs and postcards of the pillar and of the details of the relief.

Descrizione: Macintosh HD:Users:katiamazzucco:Desktop:k:p:[12 12]_aisthesis:mazzucco aisthesis pictures:san zeno r 2.jpgIn San Zeno a “Miss Express-bring” was immured tilted into the pillar because of Paganism. In vain! To be photographed. […] Brigitte the Express-Victory-bringer as peace communicator! (WIA III.15.3.2, Tagebücher der KBW, VIII, 20/06/1929, 12/08/1929; cfr. Warburg [1926-1929])

San Zeno, material inversion (S. Zeno Inversione im Materiellen. WIA III.102.3 (Mnemosyne I, Allgemeine Ideen), fol. 24)

As the photograph of the detail clearly reveals, the damaged roman relief represents a canephoros, the archaeological type of the young girl carrying with her hands a basket on her head. The stone relief, which is vertical, has been walled into the pillar with a 90°tilt, and is laid horizontal as the other stones. This represents an exemplum of the practice of re-use of ancient architectural and sculptural material for civil or religious buildings. In this case, we are facing the desemantisating use of a pagan figure in a Christian context: a «tectonic slavery (tektonischen Versklavung)» as Warburg called it[8].

Gertrud Bing wrote in a article on Warburg published in 1965:

It had been in his handling of the Ninfa that Warburg first developed his mannerism of lifting a figure from its formal context. Whether he realized it or not, he had the sanction of the fifteenth century for it. It corresponded to a habit of visual selection by which classical marbles were seen as a succession of isolated figures, thus throwing the postures into high relief, fit to be copied or reused. (Bing [1965]: 309)

In Warburg's montage for plate 46, the picture of the detail of the relief is tilted once again: it is arranged beside the picture of the pillar, in its vertical position, as the figure of a Ninfa. By means of the display, the image is returned to its meaning. Or better, à la Kandinskij: shows its multi-layers meaning thanks the display device. We have here a visual notation that might be discussed within the context of the late 1920s debate on the reverse of the image (Pinotti [2010]).

The expression «energetic inversion (energetische Inversion)» is used by Warburg to describe the phenomenon of the dialectical meaning of a symbolic form. Examples could be the polarization of different energies (and meanings) in the representations of the “grasping figure” in the shape of the aggressor or of the Fortuna Occasio, or, more commonly in the “canephorus”, in the shape of Nike, Ninfa, or Maid – as in some examples of Italian-late-Quattrocento Nativity arranged on plate 46. Within the neologism Eilsiegbringitte, we may in fact recognise different figures: the ancient flying Nike carrying a laurel wreath, the Ninfa, the maidservant in the Nativity scene, a maid called Fräulein Brigitte. In this sense, through the (typo)graphic overturn of the photographic detail, Warburg presents a visual retroversion of the physical inversion on the pillar, as well as the conceptual reconversion of the image by means of pictures: from a pagan figure punished in vain, to the posthumous – also photographic – life of the ancient Ninfa, a peace communicator (Friedensvermittlerin) between two cultural (and, here, visual) positions.


[Fig. 1] Albumen print (recto) of Donatello, Saint George and the dragon, 1416-1417, relief, Florence, Orsanmichele, The Warburg Institute.

[Fig. 2] Albumen print (verso) of Donatello, Saint George and the dragon, The Warburg Institute.

[Fig. 3] Albumen print (verso) of Donatello, Saint George and the dragon, detail of a mark, The Warburg Institute.

[Fig. 4 & 5] Marks and notations on the verso of two Alinari pictures published as Tafeln III and IV in Bildniskunst und florentinisches Bürgertum, von A. Warburg, I. Domenico Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita. Die Bildnisse des Lorenzo de' Medici und seiner Angehörigen, mit fünf Lichtdrucken und sechs Textbildern, Verlag von Hermann Seemann, nachfolger in Leipzig 1902; among others: the early Hamburg «Schlagwort» classification mark of the «Bibliothek Warburg», and the number «43», referred to the corresponding Bilderatlas Plate. The Warburg Institute.

[Fig. 6] Aby Warburg, Per un quadro fiorentino che manca all'esposizione dei primitivi francesi, “Rivista d'arte” II, 5, 1904, p. 85.

[Fig. 7 & 8] Picture (recto, verso) of a roman relief in Verona, crypt of San Zeno, Warburg’s notation for «Frln [Fräulein] Dr. Bing», in «Verona», The Warburg Institute.

 [Fig. 9] Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne Bilderatlas, plate 46 (detail); on the left: a detail of the crypt in San Zeno and the “tilted” Ninfa, The Warburg Institute.


Bing, G., 1965: Aby M. Warburg, “Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes”, 28, 1965, pp. 299-313. Trad. it. Introduzione ad Aby Warburg, in Warburg, A., La rinascita del paganesimo antico, La Nuova Italia, Firenze, 1966, pp. IX-XXXI.

Bonetti, M.F., 2006: Documentazione e fortuna fotografica di Laocoonte (1840-1870), in Buranelli, F., P. Liverani, A. Nesselrath (a cura di), Laocoonte: alle origini dei Musei Vaticani, L’Erma di Bretschneider, Roma, pp. 79-81.

Caraffa, C., 2009: Fotografie als Instrument und Medium der Kunstgeschichte, I Mandorli, Vol. 9, a cura di C. Caraffa, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München-Berlin.

Cestelli Guidi, B., N. Mann (a cura di), 1998: Photographs at the Frontier. Aby Warburg in America 1895-1896, The Warburg Institute-Merrel Holberton, London.

Ghelardi, M. (a cura di), 2001: Aby Warburg, Entwurf zu einer Kritik des Laokoon an der Kunst des Quattrocento in Florenz. Die Entwicklung des Malerischen in den reliefs des Ghiberti, in Bergdolt, K., G. Bonsanti (a cura di), Opere e giorni. Studi in onore di Max Seidel, Marsilio, Venezia, 2001, pp. 741-48.

Guasti, C. (a cura di), 1880: Ser Lapo Mazzei. Lettere di un notaro a un mercante del XIV secolo, con altre lettere e documenti, Le Monnier, Firenze.

Johnson, G. A., 2011: Using the Photographic Archive: On Life (and Death) of Images, in Caraffa, C. (a cura di), Photo Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin, 2011, pp. 145-156.

Guicciardini, F., 1512-1530: Opere inedite di Francesco Guicciardini. Illustrate da Giuseppe Canestrini e pubblicate per cura dei conti Piero Luigi Guicciardini, Barbèra, Bianchi e comp.,Firenze, 1857.

Hurttig, M.A., T. Ketelsen (a cura di), 2012: Die entfesselte Antike. Aby Warburg und die Geburt der Pathosformel, con contributi di U. Rehm, C. Wedepohl, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln, 2012.

Maffioli, M., A.C. Quintavalle (a cura di), 2003: Fratelli Alinari. Fotografi in Firenze, Alinari, Firenze.

Mantz, P., 1886: Une tournée en Auvergne, “Gazette des Beaux Arts”, 381.

Mastroianni, G., 2000: Il buon Dio di Aby Warburg, “Belfagor”, 55, pp. 413-442.

Mazzucco, K., 2011: Mnemosyne, il nome della memoria. Bilderdemonstration, Bilderreihen, Bilderatlas: una cronologia documentaria del progetto warburghiano, “Quaderni del Centro Warburg Italia”, III, pp. 139-203.

Mazzucco, K., 2011: Quarant’anni di bibliofilia e iconofilia. Osservazioni sul montaggio del libro Mnemosyne di Aby Warburg, “Rivista di Storia della Filosofia”, 2, pp. 303-338.

Michaels, W.B., 2007: Photographs and Fossils, in Elkins, J. (a cura di), Photography Theory, “The Art Seminar”, Routledge, New York-London, pp. 431-450.

Michaud, P.A., 1998: Aby Warburg et l’image en mouvement, Macula, Paris.

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Russell, M., 2007: Between Tradition and Modernity. Aby Warburg and the Public Purposes of Art in Hamburg, 1896-1918, Berghahn Books, New York-Oxford.

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Warburg, A., 1902: Bildniskunst und florentinisches Bürgertum. I. Domenico Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita. Die Bildnisse des Lorenzo de' Medici und seiner Angehörigen, in Id., Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.2: Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike [1932], a cura di H. Bredekamp, M. Diers, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1998, pp. 89-126, 340-352.Trad. ingl. The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity, a cura di K.W. Forster, D. Britt, Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los Angeles, 1999, pp. 185-221.

Warburg, A., 1904: Per un quadro fiorentino che manca all'esposizione dei primitivi francesi, “Rivista d'arte”, II, 5, pp. 85-86; in Id., Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.2: Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike [1932], a cura di H. Bredekamp, M. Diers, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1998, pp. 217-220, 382. Trad. ingl. The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity, a cura di K.W. Forster, D. Britt, Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los Angeles, 1999, pp. 311-313, 484.

Warburg, A., 1907: Die Bilderausstellungen des Volksheims, “Das Volksheim in Hamburg, Bericht über das sechste Geschäftsjahr 1906-1907”, pp. 53-55; in Id., Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.2: Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike [1932], a cura di H. Bredekamp, M. Diers, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1998, pp. 589-592, 658.Trad. ingl. The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity, a cura di K.W. Forster, D. Britt, Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, Los Angeles, 1999, pp. 717-718, 776.

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Warburg, A., 1926-1929: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. VII: Tagebuch der Kulturwissenschaftlichen Bibliothek Warburg, a cura di K. Michels, C. Schoell-Glass, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 2001.

Wölfflin, H., 1896-1897: Wie man Skulpturen aufnehmen soll, “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst”, VII, 1896, pp. 224-228, VIII, 1897, pp. 294-297. Trad. it. di I. D’Angelo,Fotografare la scultura, a cura diB. Cestelli Guidi, Tre Lune, Mantova, 2008.

[1] The examples discussed in this paper represent a short selection of documents and critical material collected for a broader research on Photography and Art History. I worked on the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection (1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s) case study thanks to a Visiting Scholar Grant of the British Academy (2011-2012 scheme). I want to thank the academic staff of the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection for their support and valuable comments and the Institute Director for the permission to publish the pictures.

[2]The famous pictures taken by Warburg in 1896 during his trip in the Pueblo villages in New Mexico and Arizona have already been discussed in the context of the multidisciplinarity of Cultural Studies in late XIX Century, and through the critical perspective of Anthropology related to Art History (Cestelli Guidi, Mann [1998]). I am not going to recall this debate here, and I would comment a different kind of examples more specifically related to reproduction of works of art.

[3]On this Warburg’s essay and photography see Michaud (1998).

[4]WIA III.95, Die Bedeutung der Antike für den Stilwandel in der italienischen Kunst der Frührenaissance, seminar. The Warburg’s paper catalogue is a work in progress by Claudia Wedepohl: all the signatures herein mentioned are therefore to be considered as provisional. On Warburg's Detail and these material see Mastroianni (2000).

[5] On Warburg research on the Yale cassone see Claudia Wedepohl in Joseph Connors, and Louis A. Waldman, editors, Bernard Berenson at Fifty, Villa I Tatti (forthcoming).

[6] See for instance panel V of the the so-called Geburtstagsparade, in Mazzucco (2011); cfr. Warburg (1925-1929).

[7] The first photographic campaign of the Laocoon by Alinari was in 1878; cfr. Bonetti (2006). On the early sculpture-photography debate cfr. Wölfflin (1896-1897).

[8] Cfr. this one (WIA III.102.1.2 fol.2) and other formulations of the Eilbringitte in WIA III.102 (Mnemosyne I, Mnemosyne Grundbegriffe).


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