Research Grant 2022-2023

Two one-year research fellowships had been published by the Bologna University Department of Arts  with funding from the Friends of Federico Zeri Association, thanks to a donation by collector Simonpietro Salini.
The young scholars Martina Bordone and Antonino Tranchina to whom the fellowships were awarded are researching into The 'Guglielmo Matthiae' collection at the Zeri Photo Archive. Iconographic sources behind the evolution and diffusion of Byzantine art.

Guglielmo Matthiae (1909-1977) was one of the most important Italian medievalists. He graduated at Rome under Pietro Toesca, like Federico Zeri many years before, and soon joined the Fine Arts administration. Among his many roles there, he went first to the Latium Monuments Superintendency, then to the L'Aquila counterpart, becoming Superintendent in Abruzzo from 1958 to 1966. At Aquila University he taught History of Medieval and Modern Art for over twenty years. From 1966 to 1974 he was Superintendent to the Rome Galleries.
Matthiae’s main scientific focus was early Christian, Byzantine and Romanesque art centring largely in Abruzzo, Rome and Latium.

Throughout his research corpus of over 80 publications he made great strategic use of photographic material.  His archive of loose photographs, albums and drawings was incorporated via Simonpietro Salini in the Zeri Photo Archive, at times and in circumstances still partly to be clarified. Following his usual practice, Federico Zeri divided and sorted the collection into the folders comprising his own personal archive. The prime aim of the research project (cf. attachment) is to reconstruct the extent and features of the Matthiae collection as it merged with the Zeri archive; then to catalogue and upgrade all the materials and study them. Matthiae mapped out the routes Byzantine art followed in its various migrations; by tracking these down it will be possible to explore his key art historical ideas as to the birth and development of Byzantine art and its role in that of European art.

Size of the collection

The operation of cataloguing the Italian Painting and Italian Sculpture series within the Zeri Photo Archive brought to light 2,012 photos that certainly came from Matthiae, and these can be traced in the online catalogue via this link.
The Architecture section originally contained a compact nucleus deriving from Matthiae: three folders containing 780 photos marked as "Fondo Matthiae" on the back in Federico Zeri’s own hand. During a reordering operation by the Bologna Archive Superintendency in 2006, these photographs were divided up and placed with other architecture photos in chronological and geographical order. The Zeri Photo Archive was mapped at the moment of donation, and via that operation it should be possible to reconstruct the Matthiae nucleus.

Other sections of the Zeri Photo Archive – decorative arts, archaeology and above all miniature – have not yet been sifted, but are likely to contain Matthiae materials. A search in the Zeri book collection is also been scheduled; this may bring to light volumes from the Guglielmo Matthiae collection which was originally comprised of photos, documents and books to a total of some 5,000 items. 


Martina Bordone (Ivrea, 1993) graduated in 2018 from Florence University, where he also gained a research doctorate in History of Art, his thesis being on individual devotional books in Italy across the 13th and 14th centuries. During his MA studies, he spent time at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, after which he was several times hosted by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Département des Manuscrits e Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal). As well as studying individual devotional literature in its various forms, he has explored and written about liturgical and iconographic exchanges between East and West, painting and miniature in central-north Italy from the 13th to the 15th century, and the relationship between text and image in medieval and early Renaissance illuminated codexes.

Antonino Tranchina (Palermo, 1985) studied Modern Literature and Visual Arts at Palermo and Bologna University. In 2015 he was awarded a research doctorate in History of Art at the University ‘La Sapienza’ University, his dissertation being on evidence of art culture generated by the monastery of Salvatore in lingua Phari a Messina during the 12th century.
He researched into southern Italian late medieval monasticism as a research assistant at the Bibliotheca Hertziana- Max Planck Institute for History of Art in Rome, with which he still has various ongoing projects. He is currently on the short-term teaching staff of Udine University teaching the History of Miniature.
His particular focus is on how the concepts of Medieval and Greek have migrated through history, and especially the ‘Byzantine question’ and how it has fared in the literature of modern art history. Guglielmo Matthiae and his scientific contribution fit into this theme with its overall aim of assessing the importance of mid-20th-century Italian scholars in the field of international Byzantine studies.

Call for research fellows