Masterpieces of Italian Architecture – Past and Present

Images from the "Photo archive of the destroyed Italian artworks" of the "Deutscher Militärischer Kunstschutz" in Italy are presented along current streetviews

Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Zentralinstitut für Kunsgeschichte

Poster of the Kunstschutz (2012)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

About the "Photo archive of the destroyed Italian artworks"

After the Allies had landed on Sicily in July 1943 and Mussolini was imprisoned, German troops occupied Italy and installed a general agent of the German Reich as well as the regime of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana. Similar to occupied France, a department for "Art, Archive and Library Protection" of the German military administration was set up in the autumn of 1943, according to the Hague Conventions.

Courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti (1943)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Cooperation between German and Italian art protection units

In the offices of Rome and Florence, later Milan and finally Fasano del Garda, German art historians including Hans Gerhard Evers, Werner Haftmann, Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich, Leo Bruhns, Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus, Leopold Reidemeister and Herbert Siebenhüner worked for the Department of Art Protection. Her field of activity included the documentation of buildings that should be protected, the advising of the Italian authorities on protection measures, the erection of protective structures and the organization of the removal of objects of art into depots. In this context, prohibitions were also imposed on the occupancy of buildings by the own troops. During 1944, the photographic documentation of the damage caused by allied air raids forms the centre of the German activities.

Title page of the publication "La guerra contro l'arte", Milan 1944 (1944) by without authorZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Art protection and propaganda

This exhibit presents exemplary pieces of the approx. 2,400 prints that are kept in the photo study collection of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte. This convolute can be identified with the "photo archive of destroyed works of art" which was assembled the Kunstschutz in Italy in 1944 and 1945. The photographs document the safeguarding activities of the German and Italian art protection units, but especially the damage or destruction of buildings by allied air raids. This visual evidence was used to illustrate propaganda booklets. Some copies of these books are available in the library of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte.

Ospedale Maggiore, courtyard (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Heydenreich and the Kunstschutz archive

The photo archive of the Kunstschutz was established by Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich. After the death of Friedrich Kriegbaum (who fell victim to the first British air attack on Florence on the 25th of September, 1943), Heydenreich was appointed acting director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. Because of this function, he also became responsible for art protection in Tuscany. After the evacuation of Florence and the storage of the institute's stock in Germany, his office moved to the Deutsches Institut in Milan, where he worked from summer 1944 onwards. In October 1944 Heydenreich himself transported the photo archive from Milan to a safe deposit at the estate of the Egyptologist Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing (1873-1956). Here, the archive was discovered by American troops and, in 1948, handed over to the newly founded Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte by the Central Collecting Point.

Early foto-card of the ZI (1949) (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

The Kunstschutz archive at the Zentralinstitut

In the photo study collection of the Zentralinstitut the prints were integrated step-by-step into the topographical section of the so-called "Abbildsammlung", but without documenting their provenance, i.e. the German art protection in Italy. This is all the more surprising – or rather not – as Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich, the main creator of this particular collection, had by then been appointed founding director of the ZI.

Part of the Kunschutz archive, discovered 2003 (2011)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

The discovery in 2003

It was only in 2003 when Ralf Peters, staff member of the photo library, accidentally discovered a convolute of photographs from the same source. This discovery prompted the Zentralinstitut to research the provenance of the material and to reconstruct the archive. The selection of photographs in this exhibit is small but representative for the archive. It combines the historical photos of the archive with today's views of the objects based on Google Streetview technology. A complete publication of the "Archives of the Destroyed Artworks of Italy" is planned as part of our cooperation with Google Arts & Culture.

Duomo di San Ciriaco (late 11th and early 12th century) (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Ancona, Duomo di San Ciriaco (late 11th and early 12th century)
The photo shows the damages of the church from 10.11.1943.

Ancona, Duomo di San Ciriaco

Cathedral, high altar (1943)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Arezzo, Cathedral
Protection measures at the High Altar with the Arca di San Donato.

Arezzo, Cathedral

Chiesa del Sacro Cuore, built between 1901 und 1912 (1943) by Edoardo CollamariniZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Bologna, Chiesa del Sacro Cuore (built between 1901-1912)
The destroyed church after the bombing of Bologna on 12.9.1943.

Bologna, Chiesa del Sacro Cuore

San Benedetto, built between 1496 and 1554 (1943)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Ferrara, San Benedetto (built between 1496 and 1554)
The church was destroyed in 1944.

Ferrara, San Benedetto

Galleria dell'Accademia, Galleria dei Prigioni and Tribuna (1943)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Florence, Galleria dell'Accademia, Galleria dei Prigioni and Tribuna
View of the walled sculptures of Michelangelo, in the center the Statue of the "David". The sculpture on the left side is a copy after the "Dying Slave" of Michelangelo in the Louvre.

Florence, Galleria
dell'Accademia

Palazzo Trinci, built between 1389 and 1411 (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Foligno, Palazzo Trinci (built between 1389 and 1411)
View of the courtyard, 1944.

Foligno, Palazzo Trinci

Accademia di Belle Arti Ligustica, built between 1826 and 1831 (1942) by Carl BarabinoZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti (built between 1826 and 1831)
View through the rooms of the Biblioteca Berio, destroyed in 1942, with propaganda posters against the Allies.

Genoa, Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti

Cattedrale San Lorenzo (1942)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, Cathedral
Fragment of an Annunciation, destroyed on 2.9.1941.

Genoa, Cathedral San Lorenzo

Ospedale Pammatone, court (1758-1780) (1942/1943) by Andrea OrsolinoZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, Ospedale Pammatone (1758-80)
View of the courtyard, destroyed on 22.10.1942, with propaganda posters against the Allies.

Genoa, Palazzo di Giustizia (former Ospedale Pammatone)

San Donato, early 12th and 13th century (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, San Donato (early 12th and 13th century)
View of the destroyed church, destructions on 6.11.1942 and 13.8.1944, with propaganda posters against the Allies.

Genoa, San Donato

San Pietro in Banchi, 1572-1585 (1944) by Bernardino Cantone and Giovanni Ponzello; Andrea VannoneZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, San Pietro in Banchi (1572-1582)
View of the destroyed facade and nave.

Genoa, San Pietro in Banchi

Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, about 1506-1520 and 1584-1625 (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, Santissima Annunziata del Vastato (around 1506-1520 and 1584-1625)
View of the nave, destroyed in the years 1942, 1943 and 1944.

Genoa, Santissima
Annunziata del Vastato

Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, around 1506-20 and 1584-1625 (destruction 1942,1943 and 1944), putti (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Genoa, Santissima Annunziata del Vastato (around 1506-20 and 1584-1625)
Destroyed Sculptures.

Genoa, Santissima
Annunziata del Vastato

Cathedral, destroyed sculptures from the facade (1944) by Carlo SimonettaZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Cathedral
Destroyed sculptures from the facade.
In the midst, "Devil under the feet of Job" from Carlo Simonetta. This photo was used for the cover of the propaganda-book "La Guerra contro l'arte" (1944).

Milan, Cathedral (southern facade)

Convent Santa Maria delle Grazie, 1490-1497 (1943) by Leonardo da VinciZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Convent Santa Maria delle Grazie (1490-1497).
The monastery courtyard (Chiostro dei Morti), the refectory with Leonardo's Last Supper behind a protective wall, destroyed between the 12th and 16th of August 1943.

Milan, Convent Santa Maria delle Grazie

Museo Poldi Pezzoli, 1848-1859 (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli (1848-1859)
View of the roof construction, destroyed on 13.8.1943.

Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli

Ospedale Maggiore (Ca Granda), ab 1456 (1943/1944) by FilareteZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Ospedale Maggiore 'Ca Granda' (built in 1456)
Main building, facade to the large courtyard, destroyed on 16.8.1943.

Milan, Ospedale Maggiore 'Ca Granda'

Palazzo Reale, built after 1452, rebuilt 1771-1799 (1943) by Guiseppe PiermariniZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Palazzo Reale (built after 1452, rebuilt 1771-1799)
Hall of Caryatids, destroyed by air raid in August 1943.

Milan, Palazzo Reale

Brera Art Gallery, from the beginning of the 17th century (1943) by Francesco Maria RichiniZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera (beginning of the 17th century)
View of the Napoleonic Halls, destroyed on 8.8.1943.

Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera, Napoleonic Halls

San Pietro in Gessate, 1460-1476 (1944) by Giuniforte oder Pietro Antonio SolariZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, San Pietro in Gessate (1460-1476)
View through the building, destroyed at the end of 1943.

Milan, San
Pietro in Gessate

Sant'Ambrogio, 1098-1128 (1943)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Sant'Ambrogio (1098-1128)
North west side, destroyed in 1943.

Milan, Sant'Ambrogio

Teatro alla Scala, 1776-1778 (1943) by Guiseppe PiermariniZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Milan, Teatro alla Scala (1776-1778)
Auditorium after the destruction on 14./15.8.1943.

Milan, Teatro
alla Scala

Chiesa degli Eremitani, tomb of Marco Benavidio, c. 1546 (1944) by Bartolomeo AmmannatiZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Padua, Chiesa degli Eremitani, tomb of Marco Benavidio (c. 1546)
Remains of a sculpture.

Padua, Chiesa
degli Eremitani

San Benedetto (started in 1195) (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Padua, San Benedetto (started in 1195)
The interior of the church, destroyed on 11.3.1944.

Padua, San Benedetto

Palazzo della Pilotta, Teatro Farnese, 1617-1618 (1944) by Giovanni Battista AleottiZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Parma, Palazzo della Pilotta, Teatro Farnese (1617-1618)
The interior of the building, destroyed on 13.5.1944.

Parma, Teatro Farnese

Chiesa di San Girolamo, 1626-1638 (1943) by Francesco BeldratiZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Rimini, Chiesa di San Girolamo (1626-1638)
Debris of the building after the bombings of the 24.3.1943.

Rimini, Chiesa
di San Girolamo

Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II, 'Teatro Amintore Galli' (started 1857) (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Rimini, Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II, 'Teatro Amintore Galli' (started in 1857)
View through the stage building into the auditorium after the air raid in December 1943.

Rimini, Teatro
Vittorio Emanuele II. (Teatro Amintore Galli)

Chiesa del Carmine, 1732-1736 (1943) by Fillippo JuvarraZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Turin, Chiesa del Carmine (1732-1736)
Choir with main altar, destroyed on 8.8.1943.

Turin, Chiesa
del Carmine

Palazzo Balbo Bertone di Sambuy (1942)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Turin, Palazzo Balbo Bertone di Sambuy
Entrance to the inner courtyard.

Turin, Palazzo
Balbo Bertone di Sambuy

Santa Teresa, 1642-1674 (1943) by Andrea CostagutaZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Turin, Santa Teresa (1642-1674)
View of the organ gallery, destroyed on 13.7.1943.

Turin, Santa Teresa

San Gioacchino, from 1876 (1943) by Carlo CeppiZentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Turin, San Gioacchino (started in 1876)
View through the nave into the choir, destroyed on 13.7.1943.

Turin, San
Gioacchino

Tempio Votivo di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice (Memorial for the fallen soldiers of the 1st World War), erected 1923 (1944)Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Treviso, Tempio Votivo di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, (memorial for the fallen soldiers of the First World War), erected 1923.
View to the sanctuary, destroyed on 7.4.1944.

Treviso, Tempio
Votivo di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice

Credits: Story

Historical photographs: Photo archive of the destroyed Italian artworks, 1943-1944.
Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Photothek
Conference Papers: Christian Fuhrmeister, Johannes Griebel, Stephan Klingen und Ralf Peters (Hrsg.): Kunsthistoriker im Krieg. Deutscher Militärischer Kunstschutz in Italien 1943-1945. Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau 2012 (Veröffentlichungen des Zentralinstituts für Kunstgeschichte in München, Bd. 29)

Credits: All media
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