Dr. Ute Dercks
Ute Dercks
Deputy head of photo library
Phone: +39 055 24911-38
Fax: +39 055 24911-40
Links: Opac

Ulrich Middeldorf and the Photothek

Ute Dercks
Ulrich Middeldorf (in the backround) with Bernhard Degenhart, sitting in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, 1930s
Ulrich Middeldorf (in the backround) with Bernhard Degenhart, sitting in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, 1930s [less]

When Ulrich Middeldorf left Florence in November 1935 to teach art history at the University of Chicago, he bequeathed the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz the 'Photo collection – the special pride of our Institute'. It was organized in the structure that has characterised the Photothek up to the present day.  His influence on the growth of the archive itself was enormous, not only because of his personal donations, but also due to the relationship he fostered with the main patron of the collection – Luigi Vittorio Fossati Bellani. Thanks to him, Middeldorf systematically expanded the sections of the Photothek. He was 25 when he first came to the Institute as a scholar. In the following years he turned the Photothek, which until then had been directed voluntarily by Fritz Gebhard, into a modern research instrument, by re-organising the classification and the card indexes as the main finding aid.  Of particular interest is also Middeldorf's discontinued project of an "art historically organized catalog," in which artists were to be cataloged with biographical data, information on their sphere of activity and their teachers. Also, it included bibliographical references that allowed a closer connection with the library. Equally instructive is annother – only partly surviving – catalog with bibliographical references.



Ute Dercks: Ulrich Middeldorf Prior to Emigration - The Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (1928-1935), in: Exiles and émigrés, libraries and image collections: the intellectual legacy, edited by v. Jaś Elsner and Clare Hills-Nova, Art Libraries Journal vol. 38, n. 4 (2013), pp. 29-36

Ute Dercks: "And because the use of the photographic device is impossible without a proper card catalog...." The Typological-Stylistic Arrangement and the Subject Cross-Reference Index of the KHI's Photothek between 1897 and the 1930s, in: Classifying content. Photographic collections and theories of thematic ordering, edited by v. Chiara Franceschini and Katia Mazzucco, Visual Resources, vol. 30, Issue 3, September 2014, pp. 181-200

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