Announcing a Series of Recent Archival Acquisitions

September 9, 2020
Image of some items from the Frederick Mason Perkins archive at I Tatti

The Berenson Library is pleased to announce some exciting acquisitions that support I Tatti’s mission to promote knowledge of the Italian Renaissance.

Frederick Mason Perkins photographs and papers
Frederick Mason Perkins (1874-1955) was an American art historian, dealer, and collector who lived in Italy for sixty years. A close friend of Bernard Berenson, he played a leading role in the study and attribution of Italian paintings. During his lifetime, he was in contact with some of the greatest American collectors of the time, such as Dan Fellows Platt, Helen Clay Frick, and George Blumenthal, who were seeking his help to develop their collections.

The photograph archive, which numbers approximately 8,000 photographs and some additional miscellaneous archival material, documents an important slice of the art market in the first half of the 20th century. Frederick Mason Perkins himself commissioned a large number of the photographs and these are often the first-ever reproductions of paintings he found in churches in remote places around Italy. These items illustrate his research interests in the Sienese school of painting, his activity as a connoisseur, the role he had in the art market, and his interest in photography. The collection was processed by library staff, and is now open for consultation to the scholarly community. Check our online Finding Aid to discover rare images of artworks and fascinating letters from collectors.

Salvadore and Giuseppe Salvadori records
Salvadore Salvadori and his son Giuseppe were art dealers active in Florence between 1880 and 1949. The Salvadori firm was sought after by an international group of clients including Bernard Berenson, Joseph Widener, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and, among the Italians, the Duke of Aosta, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Eleonora Duse. The firm specialized in decorative arts, such as furniture, ceramics and metalwork. They excelled in commerce in tapestries, rugs, and textiles, and established a conservation laboratory for textiles in Borgo San Frediano.

The collection provides a detailed view of the father-and-son business activities, their commerce in art, the management of the firm, and the individuals involved. It includes letters, cables, ledgers, account books, and inventories, but also more than 1,800 glass plate negatives related to the different artworks the firm dealt with, plus 15 albums with photographic prints (all available online) showing artworks offered by the firm. Among many others, works of art documented in the albums include the two marble sculptures (St John and David) from the Martelli collection that the Salvadori sold to John Widener and are now in the National Gallery in Washington; and the series of Barberini tapestries for the Basilica of St. Peter’s that they sold to Charles Foulke, and are now at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York.


Bruno Zanardi photograph archive
Bruno Zanardi was born in Parma and educated as an art historian and conservator in Rome (Istituto Centrale del Restauro) with Giovanni Urbani. During his career, he has restored some of the greatest monuments in Italy. From 1986 to 1992 he worked on the restoration of the Parma Baptistery, while in 1992 he began the conservation of the Sancta Sanctorum, the Pope’s private chapel. During these years, he developed a strong friendship and collaboration with Federico Zeri. Both before and after the 1997 earthquake, he restored the frescoes of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. Zanardi has been a supporter of the precautionary approach of conservation in relation to environmental protection. He has published extensively in art conservation theory and his studies on Giotto and the Roman School of painting have opened new paths in art historical research.

The collection includes, among others, photographs, drawings, and slides related to the aforementioned Basilica of Assisi, the Ara Pacis and Trajan Column reliefs, the mosaics and mural paintings of the Sancta Sanctorum chapel and the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica in Rome, Pietro da Cortona’s frescoes at Palazzo Barberini in Rome, and the decoration of the Cathedral and Baptistery of Parma.

Digital reproductions of the frescoes depicting the Life of St. Francis in Assisi are already accessible through Hollis Images, while library staff are now working on making the entire collection of approximately 35,000 high-resolution color images available online.

Our expectation is that our new acquisitions will serve as primary sources of information of exceptional value about the provenance, history, and preservation of artworks.

Parma baptistry during the restoration by Bruno Zanardi

Parma baptistry during the restoration by Bruno Zanardi