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Stefano Bardini's photographic archive: a visual historical document

Tunesi, Annalea (2014) Stefano Bardini's photographic archive: a visual historical document. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Stefano Bardini (1836-1922) was a polymath figure; art dealer, collector, amateur architect and photographer. As an art dealer he dominated the scene of art collecting for fifty years, from 1875 until 1922, the date of his death. Stefano Bardini is considered as the art-dealer who reinvented the idea of mediaeval and Renaissance art in Italy. His work influenced the most important museums and private collections of his time and, in 1883 with the establishment of his showroom in his newly built Palazzo Mozzi Bardini, he created an ultra modern space that combined two important elements: the commercial and the museological. Bardini challenged his clients and their nowledge of art with his enigmatic and fascinating displays. He immortalised these displays in his photographs, using a sophisticated process that combined composition, lighting, perspective, symmetry and frames in a unique manner. This study is based on photographs from the Stefano Bardini photographic archive and is an investigation of the images and their composition as a distinctive language. The thesis will explore the visual language of the photographs as historical documents and investigate the influences of Stefano Bardini’s historical and cultural context in order to understand the creative process of his displays and illuminate how the photographic frame reveals his conscious and unconscious intentions. This study’s aim is to investigate how Bardini’s photographs reflect the original history of his time and how much he created a new historical point of view. Until now these photographs have been used to re-trace the destination of works of art sold by Bardini; this thesis has a different focus as its intention is to unfold the symbolic layers of the images and interpret their meanings with reference to the socio-cultural milieu of Bardini’s time. Letters from the Bardini archive and notebooks provide a more specific context for his innovative displays and show the personality of his clients, their art collecting interests and how photography as a relatively new medium for selling, proved to be a useful tool for the practice of art dealing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-935-7
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.678060
Depositing User: Leeds CMS
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 15:18
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2016 15:44
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7490

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