The Salerno ivories – re-photographed
An Online Exhibition by the Photothek of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
The 11/12th century ivory plates of the Salerno cathedral in southern Italy are among the most significant pieces of medieval woodcraft. At the same time, they challenge art historical research because very little is known about their time and place of origin, their provenance, and their function. The international research project "Mediterranean Cross-Currents: The So-Called Salerno Ivories" addresses these works of art in interdisciplinary conferences and publications.
In 2015, the Photo Library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz accompanied the project with a photographic campaign. The Roman photographer Roberto Sigismondi documented the 62 plates and some fragments of frames which are kept in the Salerno Museum of the Diocese. Every single piece was examined and photographed individually. The pictures were taken from different angles, from the backside, and at close distance in order to create an impression of the materiality and plasticity of the masterworks rich in details and variants. 250 digital and high-resolution photographs were created that are now available in the Digital Photo Library for international research. Furthermore, the photographs illustrate the monograph "The Salerno Ivories: Objects, Histories, Contexts", published by Francesca Dell'Acqua, Anthony Cutler, Herbert L. Kessler, Avinoam Shalem and Gerhard Wolf in 2016.
The online exhibition presents a selection of this campaign. Some historic photographs were added showing not only the ivory plates but also some of their plaster casts – put together to an antependium – in a 19th century presentation.