Online enhancement of the Fahy Photo Archive: cataloguing and digitalizing the 1,475 photos documenting works by Leonardo da Vinci, Filippino Lippi, Cosimo Rosselli, Verrocchio, Fra Bartolomeo and Michelangelo.

Thanks to a contribution from Emanuela and Silvano Merlatti.

Everett Fahy (1941-2018) was an American art historian and one of the chief experts on Tuscan Renaissance painting. His Photo Archive contains several thousand photos covering masters from the great Florentine figurative period astride the 15th-16th centuries. Historically and politically turbulent times, they were artistically unique, unrepeatable, making Florence the centre of the “New Art” and cultural capital of the Italian Renaissance.

Having focussed on Domenico Ghirlandaio, this new cataloguing project, enhancing our photographic documentation of painting in the Florentine Renaissance, moves on to a number of major artists who played a key role in Florence across the turn of the 15th-16th century.

We have Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488), master painter and sculptor whose workshop trained, among many others , Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519); Filippino Lippi (1457-1504), pupil and close co-worker to Alessandro Botticelli, whose elegance and polished style he inherited; Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507), a much esteemed fresco artist skilled enough to take part in the Sistine Chapel project in the Vatican; Baccio della Porta, whom history knows under his monkish title of Fra’ Bartolomeo (1472-1517), and lastly  Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564).


The value of the collection

Divided into six envelopes and totalling 1,475 photographs, this truly rich collection affords the most exact and detailed documentation on the best works by these old masters.
There are, besides, a number of folders devoted to the graphic output of Leonardo da Vinci, Filippino Lippi and Fra’ Bartolomeo especially. These photos will be a great addition to the Zeri Foundation database which is increasingly focussing on drawings, while the notes and novel information jotted on the backs will prove a specially useful study resource.

Another thing that makes this photographic material exceptional is that Everett Fahy focussed his research on those artists right from an early point in his own studies. Over the course of his career he produced articles and essays that are still held to be fundamental to art history. Worthy of special mention, here, are his texts on the youth of Fra’ Bartolomeo (1966; 1969; 1996), Michelangelo’s paintings (1977; 2009) and certain important paintings by Cosimo Rosselli (1973) and Verrocchio (1994).

These were collected, along with other writings, in the double volume Everett Fahy, Studi sulla pittura toscana del Rinascimento/Studies in Tuscan Renaissance Painting  edited by Andrea De Marchi and Elisabetta Sambo, and published by the Federico Zeri Foundation in 2020. 

What the project entailed

Digitalizing the 1,475 photos and cataloguing them on line, divided thus: Leonardo da Vinci (121); Filippino Lippi (435); Cosimo Rosselli (233); Verrocchio (174); Fra’ Bartolomeo (403) and Michelangelo (108).

The project terminated in December 2022.

The images are available free of charge on the Zeri Foundation online database: link here

In publishing this latest series the online  Fahy Photo Archive  now amounts to over 13,000 images of Florentine and Tuscan painting and sculpture dating from the early 15th to the mid-16th century, thus swelling the Zeri Photo Archive into a unique resource for this particular research field.


The Patrons

Silvano Merlatti is an eager collector of contemporary Italian art and one of the most successful Italian entrepreneurs operating in Melbourne, Australia where in 2017 he received the title of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Born at Savigliano in the province of Cuneo, he spent many years working for the Banca Commerciale Italiana before moving over to the Hong Kong branch of Fila; years later he would acquire the sportswear brand’s licence for Australia.

Love of art was passed on to him by Alessandro Longhi, his wife Emanuela’s uncle, on visits to art shrines of Lombardy. This ignited a passion for painting which first led him to collect contemporary art of South East Asia, Myanmar and China, and then turn, thanks to his friend the gallery-owner Matteo Mapelli, to Italian contemporary.
The upshot was an exhibition held at the Italian Institute of Culture in Melbourne, 2016, under the aegis of the Italian Consulate there. On show was part of his private collection: The Farnesina Collection - the Merlatti Collection, Selected Works.

Over the years Cavaliere Merlatti has paid close attention to the figure and art studies of Federico Zeri, to whom he feels indebted for the profundity and also the immediate style of those writings, the full corpus of which he has perused. Other scholars who influenced his education are Berenson, Clark and Chastel.

It is, he says, a great source of pleasure as of 2021 he has become a supporter of the Federico Zeri Foundation.