British photographic history

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Information request: Adolphe Braun/Braun et Cie photographs of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Does anybody know of any institutions who have Adolphe Braun photographs of the vault of the Sistine Chapel? Here in the History of Art Department at the University of Oxford we have a full set of 125 carbon prints that measure aprox 49x63cm. I have tried to find other institutions who may have a full series or part of it in any size but particularly in this larger scale. I see that the Getty have a set of 7 or 8.

Any help would be much appreciated.


Visual Resources Assistant

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Comment by MIssy Lemke on March 4, 2020 at 14:33

The National Gallery of Art's Department of Image Collections owns 88 Braun Sistine Chapel carbon prints at that size. Unfortunately we do not know when they came into the collection.

It is wonderful to have more information about this set!

All the best,

Missy Lemke

Image Specialist for Italian Art

National Gallery of Art Library, Department of Image Collections

Comment by Michael Hocken on May 27, 2019 at 23:16

How exciting! 

Comment by Costanza Caraffa on February 11, 2019 at 9:43

Dear Francesca,

you should have a look at the catalogue of the big Adolphe Braun exhibition that took place in 2017 in Munich. I remember that they showed also some photographs from the Sistina series.

Adolphe Braun : ein europäisches Photographie-Unternehmen und die Bildkünste im 19. Jahrhundert

best wishes,

Costanza Caraffa

Comment by Tamara Tolnai on September 11, 2017 at 10:11

According to the Vatican Museums' regulations, photographers and other artists (e.g. engravers) were obligated to hand in a copy of their work to the Vatican institutions. Since the Fototeca Vaticana as the Vatican Museums' photographic library is basically of later origin, the original photographs presented to the pope by Braun are to be found in the photographic collection of the Biblioteca Vaticana and the Accademia di San Luca.

Best wishes

Tamara Tolnai

Comment by Francesca Issatt on September 11, 2017 at 10:00

Thank you both.

Ruth - thanks for pointing me to the Braun catalogue.

Anthony - Yes I have read Art and the Early Photographic Album but it was a few years ago now so thanks for reminding me about Philippe Jarjat's chapter.

Comment by Anthony Hamber on September 11, 2017 at 8:37

The South Kensington Museum (V&A) purchased a set on the 11th May 1870 for £50. nos 69.090-60.214 in Portfolio 339.

The Royal Academy of Arts, London may also have a copy.

You may already have read Philippe Jarjat "Michelangelo's Frescoes through the Camera's Lens: The Photographic Album and Visual Identity" in Art and the Early Photographic Album, Yale University Press, 2011.


Anthony Hamber

Comment by Ruth von dem Bussche on September 11, 2017 at 8:17


The "old" art history institutions in Florence and Rome could have something:

- British School at Rome

- Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome

- Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence

The latter has at least a printed catalogue of Braun online:

Best ask at the KHI or BH photo collections directly since there might be something missing in the libraries catalogues.


Ruth Bussche

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