Katia Mazzucco

The Warburg iconotheca in Hamburg. Documents for a history of the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection

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Given its system of subject categories, the Warburg Institute Photographic collection is a unique tool for iconographic research. The system's first classificatory structure was by genre, topography, and a few subjects closely related to the work of Aby Warburg and Fritz Saxl. The origin of the current structure of the Photographic Collection, implemented and developed over later years, was the product of collaboration between Edgar Wind and Rudolf Wittkower. The classification itself, as a systematic intellectual project, owed to the period of temporary housing of the Warburg Library at the Thames House, after the move from Hamburg in London in 1933. The difficulty in accessing direct sources for this story produced a partial account of the original collection's categorisation system before the Wind-Wittkower intervention and the absence of a proper system for the Bildersammlung in Hamburg. This article collects and contextualises some unpublished documents, including the original planning system for the collection. It contributes to the history of the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection and sheds a light on the role of photography in the definition of a Warburgian Bildwissenschaft.

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