National Gallery of Art - RESOURCES
Photographic Archives

The Italian Architectural Drawings Photograph Collection

The Italian Architectural Drawings Photograph Collection (IADPC) was assembled under the auspices of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) for the Photographic Archives of the National Gallery of Art. The collection of approximately 45,000 photographs and 350 manuscripts on microfilm documents drawings made before 1800 of Italian architecture from repositories around the world. The artists and draftsmen who produced these drawings are not only Italian, but come from throughout Europe. The architectural drawings fall into various categories, such as working, project, and presentation drawings; views, panoramas, travel sketches, treatises, architectural details, and architectural ornament. Also included are drawings from related fields in which the influence of architecture is pronounced and where the designers frequently were architects, for instance shipbuilding, carriage and furniture design, and gold and silverware.

Although Italy's museums, libraries, and archives conserve the majority of the drawings of Italian architecture, there are also significant groups of such drawings in England, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Canada, and the United States. The relevant material in five of the major drawings collections has been entirely photographed for this project: the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence; the Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence; the Gabinetto Comunale delle Stampe, Rome; the Archivio Storico of the Accademia di San Luca, Rome; and the Royal Institute of British Architects, London. Other important collections that are well-represented, if not complete, are those of the Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan; the Gabinetto Civico dei Disegni, Milan; the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan; the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City, Rome; the British Library, London; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; and the Royal Library, Windsor. The photographic campaign of architectural drawings in German collections covers the Kunstbibliothek, Kupferstichkabinett, and Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, and the Graphische Sammlung of the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf.

Since very few repositories have complete catalogues of their collections of architectural material, consultation and research in this area can be difficult. The IADPC filing system (by country, city, and repository) provides accessible photographic records of each repository's holdings of architectural drawings. An in-house database also provides limited cross-reference by artist or subject matter.

Drawings are identified with information provided by the repository. Photographs of the architectural drawings from the Uffizi (probably the largest single collection) are arranged, as they are in the Gabinetto dei Disegni e Stampe, by the Uffizi's artist attribution. A numerical list of the Uffizi drawings by inventory number is also available. Wherever possible, notes are also made of new identifications, new attributions, or recent bibliography. In some cases, especially for those manuscripts composed mainly of text with few illustrations, such as treatises, photographs are available of a representative selection of drawings, and a microfilm is provided of the entire work.

For further information about the Italian Architectural Drawings Photograph Collection, please call the Photographic Archives at (202) 842-6034, or e-mail us.

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