Gustav Ludwig: The photographic bequest

Costanza Caraffa, Almut Goldhahn

The photographs from the bequest of art historian Gustav Ludwig not only reproduce the objects of his study but were a pillar of his scientific argumentation. In particular, they shed light on his methods and on the results of his work.

The some 2,500 photographs in the bequest came to the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz following Ludwig's death in 1905. In their materiality, the pictures in their card mounts, together with their stamps, inventory numbers and handwritten annotations, are valuable documents of art-historical practices in the early years of the last century. They offer an insight into the mental and visual "laboratory" of the art historian and allow us to reconstruct his way of working. Ludwig, who had attended the "Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Photographie und Reproduktionsverfahren" in Vienna, was well versed in the techniques of photography and put them to use in his research. The project has so far examined the photographs of Carpaccio's Saint Ursula cycle as well as Ludwig's palimpsest-type photo collages of the restello, a type of dressing mirror widespread in the Venetian Renaissance. The analysis of the photographic material pertaining to the frescos in the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi in Venice forms the next stage of the project. 

A selection of Ludwig's photographs can be seen in our online exhibition:
Gustav Ludwig. The photographic bequest

Costanza Caraffa: "'Wenden!' Fotografien in Archiven im Zeitalter ihrer Digitalisierbarkeit: ein material turn"
In: Rundbrief Fotografie 71, September 2011, pp. 8–15

Costanza Caraffa: "Pensavo fosse una fototeca, invece è un archivio fotografico"
In: Archivi fotografici. Spazi del sapere, luoghi della ricerca, a cura di Costanza Caraffa e Tiziana Serena, Ricerche di Storia dell'Arte 106 (2012), pp. 55–69

Costanza Caraffa / Almut Goldhahn: Fotografien als Forschungsobjekte – Der Nachlass Gustav Ludwigs in der Photothek des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz
In: Fotografie und Film im Archiv. Sammeln, Bewahren, Erforschen, hrsg. von Irene Ziehe und Ulrich Hägele, Waxmann-Verlag, Münster, New York u.a. 2013, pp. 73–84 (=Visuelle Kultur. Studien und Materialien, Bd. 6)


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