Still Life

The still life section of the Zeri Photo Archive, composed of 14,400 photos, is the largest existing collection in the world devoted to this genre, and a benchmark for art history studies. The photographs document paintings from the 14th to the 19th century in Italian, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Austrian and Spanish still life.

The photographic material reflects Federico Zeri's research interest in this subject, which culminated when he edited two fundamental volumes on Italian Still Life, published by Electa in 1989.

Zeri acquired his photos over a span of more than fifty years, thanks to his relations with auction houses and collectors, purchases at museum and superintendency photograph cabinets, or buying up other scholars' archives. In the main the photos reproduce works that only fleetingly came onto the market at auction houses or dealers', and are now in private collections or unknown whereabouts. The collection thus also provides a panorama of Still Life and its fortunes; arranging of it by folders captures key moments in the art historian debate on the genre.

On the back of photos there are notes by Zeri or other scholars giving essential information for research into individual paintings: location, provenance, stages with collectors, attribution, bibliographical notes. The cataloguing system used has enabled us to save and upload such data for the benefit of scholars. Moreover, in the still life section it has been used a special subject description that enables detailed research on works and individual objects figuring in paintings.

Files and images, integrated into the Photo Archive catalogue, comprise the first online repertory specifically devoted to this genre of painting.