Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive

Title

Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive

Description

The Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive was created by Florentine art connoisseur Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi to supplement his own knowledge and understanding of art in support of his growing collection of paintings. After Contini’s death in 1955, the collection was acquired by Florentine antiquarian Gualtiero Volterra, who continued to add photographs to the collection. Vanderbilt University purchased the collection from the Volterra estate in 1969 to support its growing Art History program. The combined research collection contains over 50,000 photographs of art objects created in Europe during the 13th through 20th centuries. The collection is especially strong in Italian art of the 13th through 18th centuries, offering breadth and depth coverage of each major Italian region and featuring both major (Botticelli, Tintoretto) as well as lesser known (Turino Vanni di Rigoli, Deodato Orlandi) artists of the period.

Identifier

MSS0088

Items in the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive Collection

Catalogue of an Important Group of Gothic Tapestries and Embroideries from a Famous Continental Source
Before the age of internet auctions, art collectors relied on print catalogs from major auction houses to discover new works for their collections or galleries. This Christie’s catalog from 1931 provides illustrations of works to be auctioned…

[Photograph from Cohen Exhibit]
In 1969, History of Art Professor Hamilton Hazelhurst was contacted by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation about the availability of an extensive photograph collection of European art objects spanning nine centuries. In October 1969, the Contini-Volterra…

[Letter to Mr. F. Hamilton Hazelhurst]
Count Contini-Bonacossi’s nephew and namesake – Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi – was an art historian employed by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. He assisted his uncle in assembling and organizing the massive photograph collection – over…

[Original Contini Catalog]
In the early 1930s, Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi began assembling a massive photograph collection of European art to guide him in building his growing art collection. A series of art historians helped organize the photograph collection,…

[List of Watteau Illustrations, French]
This index of paintings by Watteau represents one of the few handwritten documents in the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive. It was likely written by one of the various scholars who worked on building the collection and would have served as…

El Retrato Ecuestre del Duque de Lerma de Pedro Pablo Rubens
This 1961 Sotheby’s auction catalog describes the sale of Ruben’s 1603 painting, “Portrait of the Duke of Lerma on Horseback.” It is a fine example of an auction catalog, featuring color photographs of the original painting and black and…

[Letter from Valentiner]
In this 1948 letter, art critic and historian Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner describes a painting depicted in one of the Contini photographs and attributes the work to Rembrandt van Rijn. This kind of correspondence was valuable to scholars as they grew…

[Madonna and Child Altarpiece]
This image is one of the select catalog clippings from the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive that is in color, as opposed to black and white. The clipping depicts a 14th century Italian altarpiece with the Madonna and Christ child enthroned in…

Saint Jerome in the Desert
Attributed to Domenico Anderson, this black and white photograph is representative of much of the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive. The work depicts a religious scene with Saint Jerome shown in penance kneeling before a crucifixion-- a common…

Saint Jerome in the Desert
This photograph, attributed to Cav. P. Fiorentini, is one of the many detail images from the Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive. The work is an excerpt shot of Saint Jerome from Titian’s Saint Jerome in the Desert which hangs in the Pinacotecca…