Gatteschi Collection, 1900-1935

Gatteschi, Giuseppe

1866 - 1935

Photographic materials

Giuseppe Gatteschi (Alessandria Egypt 1866 – Roma 1935) still remains an undefined personality. We know few ascertained facts of his biography from Professor Orazio Marucchi, who was teaching Christian archaeology at the University of Rome in the early 20th century. He wrote the preface of Gatteschi’s publication Restauri della Roma Imperiale (1924).  According to Marucchi’s brief note, Giuseppe Gatteschi was a Professor and "noto archeologo" who studied the monuments of ancient Rome starting from 1890 on the trail of the extraordinary archaeological discoveries of contemporary excavations. In the introduction of his book, Gatteschi presents a selection of designs and projects produced in a thirty-year period “of meticulous archaeological research…on site, based on recent excavations, on Roman coins, on classical authors, on Vitruvian archaeological principles, on old engravings and especially the drawings of many monuments that were still standing in the 16th century, as measured and drawn by Renaissance architects.” Gatteschi’s work reveals the intrinsic difficulty of his enterprise, which was greatly appreciated by his contemporaries but fatally challenged by subsequent archaeological research. The work of Gatteschi is nevertheless an important and effective testimony according to which archaeology and topography were understood in the decades which gave birth to the first systematic study of the antiquities of Rome. Sources: “Giuseppe Gatteschi, Restauri della Roma Imperiale con gli stati attuali ed il testo spiegativo in quattro lingue, Roma, Comitato di azione patriottica fra il personale postale-telegrafico-telefonico 1924”

The Gatteschi Collection in the Photographic Archive of the American Academy in Rome is composed of photographs of Roman architecture paired with reconstructive architectural drawings of Imperial Rome. It consists of 346 photographic prints that may be dated from the end of the 19th century to the 1930s. The reconstruction drawings were signed by various artists, always under the direction of Gatteschi; these include Guido e Augusto Trabacchi, Bellioni and Angeletti. We do not know the names of the photographers, but there was definitely more than one. In some cases, he used the work of professional photographers, and occasionally, the photographer may have been Gatteschi himself. He often appears in the photographs to provide a human scale with the monuments in the background. Two prints were mounted on a single board (10 are singles) to allow comparison between the reconstruction proposed by Gatteschi and the archaeological ruins depicted in the photograph. This kind of layout was conceived by Gatteschi himself, as he explained in the preface of his book “Restauri della Roma Imperiale” (1924), and it is evident from his photographs in other archives, in particular the Archivio Fotografico Comunale di Roma, in Palazzo Braschi.The collection also includes photos of topographical maps annotated with notes by Gatteschi.

The 346 vintage prints are mounted on a single board, housed in polyesetr slevees and stored in six acid-free boxes kept in the consultation room of the AAR Photographic Archive.

The entire collection has been digitized.

346 silver salt

30 albumen prints

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