History of the Institute
Founded in 1912, the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History owes its existence to the munificence of Cologne-born Henriette Hertz (1846–1913) and has ever since its inauguration occupied the Palazzo Zuccari on the slope of the Pincian Hill just above the Spanish Steps. In 1889 Henriette Hertz, her school friend Frida Mond (née Loewenthal) and Frida’s husband, the chemist Ludwig Mond, decided to rent parts of the palazzo Zuccari. Ludwig Mond had revolutionised the British soda industry, developed new methods of manufacturing ammonia and extracting nickel and become one of Britain’s most successful industrialists. Consequently the Monds – and with them their close friend Henriette Hertz – were able to enjoy life on a lavish scale, travelling, entertaining and maintaining a second home in Rome, where Henriette Hertz kept an »open house« that quickly became the »centre of the cosmopolitan intellectual life of the Eternal City« (Rischbieter 2004). In keeping with her own interests, these social gatherings revolved around art, literature and music. Artists, scholars, collectors and diplomats frequented the Palazzo Zuccari.
Among the regular guests were Gabriele d’Annunzio, the physicist Pietro Blaserna, the philosopher of nature and botanist Giuseppe Cuboni, the Indologist, Sanskrit scholar and historian of philosophy Paul Deussen, the singer and writer Olga von Gerstfeldt and her husband the art historian Ernst Steinmann, the painter Sigismund Goetze, the secretary of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome Wolfgang Helbig, the classical scholar, historian, and jurist Theodor Mommsen (Nobel Prize in Literature 1902), the art historian Giovanni Morelli, the archaeologist and collector of antiquities Ludwig Pollak, the founder and first director of the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome Theodor Sickel and the violinist Teresa Tua (cfr. Rischbieter 2004).
Evidence of Henriette Hertz’s wish to set up an establishment that would provide an institutional framework for art historical studies through the provision of a specialist library with standard textbooks on literature, philosophy, history and Italian art history can be found in numerous documents going back as far as the turn of the century. She wanted to improve the conditions under which scholars studied and researched Italian and in particular Roman art history, and to clear some of the obstacles that had blocked her own path – »…I think the time is ripe to break down those barriers constituted by nationality and gender.« With the support of the art historian Ernst Steinmann (1866–1934) she began to put together a collection of books on Italian art, which was supplemented with volumes from Frida Mond’s private library (v. Rischbieter 2004 & Ebert-Schifferer in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
The library was complemented by Henriette Hertz’s extensive collection of approximately 12,000 photographs which laid the foundation of the current fototeca. The acquisition and subsequent remodelling of the Palazzo Zuccari and the adjacent Casa dei Preti (1904–1907), financed by Ludwig Mond, made it possible to install the steadily growing library on the ground floor of the Palazzo Zuccari in the winter of 1910/11. The library initially occupied five rooms, among them the Corridoio d’Ercole, the Sala Terrena and the Sala di Disegno, the original furnishings of the latter are still in situ (v. Schmitz, Schallert in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
Henriette Hertz’s project clashed with plans developed by Paul Fridolin Kehr, that after his appointment as director of the Prussian Historical Institute in Rome in 1903, had founded an art history department there in 1905. Kehr objected vehemently to the establishment of yet another German research institute in Italy and proposed to place the Hertziana under the overall direction of the Prussian Historical Institute instead. The suggestion was squarely rejected by Ernst Steinmann and his patroness. In 1912 Henriette Hertz bequeathed the Palazzo Zuccari, as the seat of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, together with a generous endowment to the recently founded Kaiser Wilhelm Society in Berlin. In accordance with her wishes, Ernst Steinmann was appointed as the new institute’s founding director. The rooms were first opened to scholars in October of 1912 on the occasion of the 10th International Congress of Art Historians held in Rome that year. The official inauguration was celebrated on 15 January 1913. Henriette Hertz died just a few months later, on 9 April 1913, at the age of 66, and was buried in the Cimitero Acattolico in Rome. With her death, the Palazzo Zuccari, the library and the photographic collection passed into the ownership of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. Her art collection, on the other hand, went to the Italian state as a token of gratitude for the hospitality she had enjoyed for so many years. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 led to the closure of the institute; in 1915, after Italy had entered the war on the side of the Allied Powers, the Italian state seized it as enemy property (v. Rischbieter 2004, Ebert-Schifferer in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). Ernst Steinmann returned to Germany and stayed there during the war.
The Bibliotheca Hertziana reopened in 1920, but it was not until 1927 that a government decree repealed the confiscation by the Italian state. During this period the institute was forced to cover its running costs by renting out rooms. Only after the threat of confiscation had been lifted, did the German Reich and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society resume responsibility for the institute. As Henriette Hertz’s endowment fund had been devoured by post-war inflation the institute now depended on subsidies and continued to operate with minimal staff consisting of the director Ernst Steinmann, his assistant, the librarian Ludwig Schudt and a porter. The Great Depression of 1929 led to further funding cuts and thrust the Hertziana into another period of serious financial difficulties.
Despite the Hertziana’s fundamentally apolitical stance and its location far from the Reich, the Nazi takeover in Germany on 30 January 1933 plunged the institute into political and institutional turmoil. Following a direct request from the Foreign Office, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society sought the appointment of the art historian and long-time party member of the NSDAP Werner Hoppenstedt as deputy director and potential successor of Ernst Steinmann. His role was to act as a go-between the Nazi Party and the Italian Fascist Party in matters of cultural policy, his mission was therefore political rather than scholarly (v. Schieder in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). Steinmann, whose right to chose his successor was written into Henriette Hertz’s will, did his best to prevent the appointment and suggested Leo Bruhns, professor of art history at Leipzig University. The conflict was resolved by the foundation of a kulturwissenschaftliche Abteilung (department of cultural studies) under the aegis of Werner Hoppenstedt. The new department was not really research-orientated; instead it was intended to convey a sense of German culture, German spirit and German Zukunftswille (determination to master the future). On 1 October 1934, Leo Bruhns succeeded Ernst Steinmann as director of the art history department of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, officially renamed in July that year as »Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Art History and Cultural Studies (Bibliotheca Hertziana)«. With two departments coexisting Hoppenstedt actively pursued Nazi party politics, while trying, at the same time, to give his department a semblance of academic integrity by employing serious scholars or inviting them to give lectures in Rome (v. Schieder in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
Leo Bruhns invested in the expansion of the institute as a place of research and education, introducing lectures, guided tours and educational excursions organised in cooperation with the German Art Historical Institute in Florence (v. Dobler in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). Bruhns, whose field of expertise had not been in the realm of Italian art before his arrival in Rome, was explicitly asked by the ministry not to devote himself solely to »the problems of research on Michelangelo« but to focus on the »relationship between Italian and German art«. The cosmopolitan approach championed by Henriette Hertz was to be demoted in favour of a nationalistic research agenda. As a consequence studies on the Italian Renaissance and Baroque so far focused on by the Hertziana were complemented by research on the Middle Ages. Especially the art of the Hohenstaufen in southern Italy – misconstrued as German ever since the rise of German nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century – provided thus a suitable area of research. Accepting this »expansion« of the institute’s research horizon, Bruhns may have succeeded in saving the Hertziana from total Nazi appropriation, but it was not within his power to prevent the erasure of the name of the Jewish donor in 1938 or, for that matter, offer research fellowships and working contracts to Jewish art historians (v. Dobler in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
When Italy entered the war, the institute’s research activities came once again to a halt. In 1944 the holdings of the library were evacuated to Austria – against the provisions of Henriette Hertz’s will and the wishes of Leo Bruhns (v. Schmitz, Dobler in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013 and History of the Library). After the war, Western Allies seized German research institutes in Rome and placed them under the supervision of a specially created consortium of international institutes, the Unione internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia, Storia e Storia dell’Arte (International Union of Institutes of Archaeology, History and History of Art). The Italo-German negotiations about the restitution of German institutes were brought to a conclusion in 1953, when the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the Italian Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi reached an agreement on their return. The Bibliotheca Hertziana became an institute of the Max Planck Society (successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society) and reassumed its old name; Hoppenstedt’s ill-conceived department of cultural studies was dissolved. An active contributor to the negotiations was the art historian Count Franz Wolff Metternich, then head of the research unit in the cultural department of the Foreign Office. After the successful conclusion of the negotiations he was appointed the new director of the Hertziana, and it became his task to reintegrate the institute into the Roman intellectual community (v. Matheus in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
The official reopening of the »Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute)« took place on 21 October 1953. Thanks to Count Franz Wolff Metternich, a universally respected and experienced diplomat and director of the institute from 1953 to 1962, the Hertziana was able to re-establish itself in Rome’s scholarly community (v. Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). Metternich’s leitmotif can be described as steadfast adherence to the ideal of pure research, uncontaminated by politics. In 1956 the senate of the Max Planck Society decided to expand the circle of academic staff at the Hertziana. Leo Bruhns (who died in 1957) and Count Metternich were joined by Ludwig Schudt (whose original appointment of 1935 was renewed) and Heinrich Mathias Schwarz who took up the newly created position of a research fellow for Southern Italian art. The status of »External Academic Member« was bestowed on two former institute assistants, Harald Keller (Frankfurt University) and Rudolf Wittkower (Columbia University, New York). The establishment of the photographic collection as a separate department led to the creation of further academic-technical positions: in 1960, after a transitional phase funded by the Unione, the collection was placed in the hands of a dedicated photographic librarian, aided by two research assistants and a secretary. Both the photographic collection and the library were expanding rapidly during those year (v. Thoenes, Schallert, Schmitz in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013 and History of the Photographic Collection and Library).
The majority of the first post-war generation of fellows and assistants laid their research focus on different aspects of Roman sacred and secular architecture of the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The summer schools conducted by Count Metternich played an important role. Source-based architectural history was central to the research at the institute, and the published results met with international acclaim. Another key area of interest in those early years was Early Christian and medieval wall painting in Rome. Metternich dedicated himself to the architectural history of the Basilica of Saint Peter’s, and to Bramante’s design in particular (v. Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). The Süditalien-Referat focused on medieval architecture in southern Italy. Heinrich Schwarz, specialist on Norman churches in Sicily, was appointed to the post in 1956, but died in a traffic accident in 1957. He was succeeded by Hanno Hahn, who had distinguished himself with an outstanding doctoral dissertation on Cistercian architecture. Tragically, he too died in a car accident during a study trip in northern France in 1960 and was succeeded by Günther Urban who focused on Norman architecture in Campania (v. Kappel in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013).
The fiftieth anniversary of the Hertziana in 1963 coincided with the introduction of the institute’s new director: Wolfgang Lotz succeeded Count Franz Wolff Metternich. A little earlier, following the unexpected death of Ludwig Schudt, Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus had been appointed head librarian at the Hertziana (v. History of the Library and Thielemann, Pace, Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). Lehmann-Brockhaus was one of the founders of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich and had been head librarian there before becoming a member of the institute in Rome and its director in 1967. Wolfgang Lotz’s academic interests were in Italian architecture of the modern era and particularly in architectural drawings. Always fascinated by marginal phenomena and digressions from the major trajectories of development, he focused his research on sixteenth-century architecture in central and upper Italy (s. Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). In later years that focus shifted to questions of urban planning and the political and social context of architectural history. At Lotz’s suggestion, Richard Krautheimer was appointed External Academic Member of the Max Planck Society in 1965. After his retirement from New York University in 1971, Krautheimer and his wife, Trude Krautheimer-Hess, settled in Rome, taking up residence in the Palazzo Zuccari, where he lived and continued to work for another twenty-three years. Günther Urban’s involvement with the Süditalien-Referat came to an end in 1971, and the section was provisionally taken over by Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus.
The photographic collection and the library expanded impressively over the course of those years (v. History of the Library and of the Photographic Collection). The documentation of architectural drawings became a core responsibility of the photographic collection. Hildegard Giess conceived a catalogue for the rapidly growing collection, a preliminary stage of the later Census Project (v. Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). The steady growth of the institute can be measured by the rising numbers of its staff amounting to 23 employees in 1962 and 51 fourteen years later in 198. The increase of personnel at the photographic collection and among academic assistants and fellows happened on a lower level. When Otto LehmannBrockhaus retired in 1977, Ernst Guldan was promoted from academic to head librarian.
The steadily rising numbers of visitors changed the character of the institute fundamentally. While in the early years of the Hertziana mostly individual scholars had made use of the exceptional resources, now crowds of art historians, mostly young researchers at university level, jostled for space in the library, as such propitious working conditions could not be found anywhere else in Rome. Lack of work space and delays in the re-shelving of books seriously hampered research undertaken by the institute’s own staff members. The biggest problem was the lack of space. In 1963 the opportunity arose to acquire the Palazzo Stroganoff. The acquisition was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Palazzo Stroganoff became the property of the Max Planck Society in December of 1963. The remodelling of the library was planned by Wolfgang Lotz in collaboration with Otto Meitinger (head of the building department of the Max Planck Society from 1963 to 1976) and the architect Silvio Galizia. Building work started in 1963, and the new library was inaugurated on 2 May 1969. In 1972 Lotz took stock: the institute had more than doubled its space, the holdings of the library had grown by fifty percent, those of the photographic collection had trebled, and visitor numbers had almost doubled; the number of academics working at the Hertziana had risen from 9 to 13, other staff from 10 to 22 (v. Thoenes in: 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana 2013). The institute was still spearheaded by two academic members. The necessary reinforcement of the library staff with an academic assistant unfortunately came at the expense of the position of the Süditalienreferent. In the autumn of 1973 Christof Thoenes was appointed to support the director, and henceforth coordinated »research and education« at the Hertziana and oversaw the publications of the institute.
In 1975 a committee was formed to appoint two new directors, deciding on two modern era specialists, Matthias Winner and Christoph Luitpold Frommel, to succeed Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus (retired 1 April 1977) and Wolfgang Lotz (retired 30 April 1980) in 1977. Ernst Guldan took over the direction of the library – a position no longer linked to the position of an academic member and directorship of the institute. At first Matthias Winner and Wolfgang Klotz constituted the council joined by Christoph Luitpold Frommel in 1980. The creation of the second directorial position and the separation of directorship and library management led to an expansion of the institute’s research horizon and restored painting to its rightful place alongside architecture, as religious and secular art from the Renaissance to the Baroque era was at the heart of Matthias Winner’s research interests. The growing numbers of academic staff involved further diversification of areas of research.
Cooperative projects with Italian institutions and research institutes heightened the visibility of the Hertziana. In 1983, to mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s birth, the institute organised an international conference on the subject of Raphael in Rome (Raffaello a Roma) in cooperation with the Vatican Museums and cooperated with other institutes on Raphael exhibitions such as Raffaello architetto (Rome 1984) and Giulio Romano (Mantua 1989).
The acquisition of the »Villino Stroganoff« on the opposite side of the Via Gregoriana in 1980 allowed the photographic collection to move into a separate premises (in 1985) gaining much needed space for the growing holdings of both the library and the fototeca.
When Matthias Winner retired in 2001, he was succeeded by Sybille Ebert-Schifferer whose research focus is on painting and the visual arts of the early modern era, particularly on Bolognese and Roman painting – most recently concentrating on Caravaggio. Elisabeth Kieven, who followed Christoph Luitpold Frommel in 2001 as the institute’s director of architectural history, retired in 2014. Central to her research were buildings of Rome and architectural drawings of the seventeenth and eighteenth century as well as – in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science – the links between the history of architecture and the history of technology. The institute is currently in the process of selecting a replacement for the directorate of architectural history.
Beginning in April 2015, the institute’s scope of research will be expanded through the addition of a new department: the department of medieval art. This third directorate, lead by Tanja Michalsky, will focus on the repositioning of medieval studies and on methodological questions concerning this period spanning antiquity to the renaissance. Thereby, particular emphasis will be given to the art and architecture of central and southern Italy as well as to Mediterranean art history.
Since the compilation of the Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance – a pioneering database on the reception of classical works of art and architecture in the early modern era - the development of comprehensive research databases has been an important part of the Hertziana departments. The Lineamenta database, begun in 2000 under Elisabeth Kieven, virtually brings together Roman and Italian architectural drawings from collections worldwide, while since 2001 ArsRoma a database initiated by Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, records data on visual arts produced in Rome between 1580 and 1630. Both databases run on the ZUCCARO software which was developed at the institute to meet the specific needs of researchers working in the humanities. The development of research-specific IT has become an integral part of the work done at the institute and provides researchers with important tools.
By the turn of the millennium the building in the garden of the Palazzo Zuccari, which had been designed by Silvio Galizia in the 1960s, was found insufficiently stable to house the 250,000 volumes of the library and did no longer meet current fire safety regulations. It was demolished in 2001 and replaced with a new library building comprising a reading room and high-density stacks designed by the Spanish architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg and opened in January 2013 (opening hours and admission). Baldeweg’s library building is the new centre of the Hertziana and acts as an architectural and functional link between the Palazzo Zuccari and the Palazzo Stroganoff. The Bibliotheca Hertziana is now accessed by the former entrance to Federico Zuccari’s garden, the gaping jaws of the iconic mascherone.
The Palazzo Zuccari and the new Library Building
The Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History is based in the historical centre of Rome in a cluster of four buildings on the Via Gregoriana: the Palazzo Zuccari, the Palazzo Stroganoff, the so-called Villino Stroganoff on the other side of the road and the new library building designed by the Spanish architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg. In 1590 the painter and art theorist Federico Zuccari started work on the Palazzo Zuccari on the slope of the Pincian Hill. The ground floor still features the original frescoes executed by Zuccari who also designed the celebrated mascherone on Via Gregoriana, which provided access to the artist’s garden. The Zuccari coat of arms, a sugarloaf (pan di zucchero), is still the emblem of the institute. In his will the artist stipulated that after his death the building should serve as a meeting place for the academy of painters, sculptors and architects as well as provide accommodation for poor art students, especially young artists coming from regions north of the Alps. Unfortunately, no struggling artist was to enjoy that privilege, as when Zuccari died heavily indebted in 1609, the building was still unfinished. His heirs chose to ignore Zuccari’s wishes, completed the palazzo and subsequently rented it out to prominent tenants. From 1703 to 1714 it was home to Maria Casimira, the widow of King John III Sobieski of Poland. She commissioned the architect Filippo Juvarra with stage designs for the ballroom of Palazzo Zuccari where operas and Singspiele by Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti were performed. Johann Joachim Winckelmann wrote his groundbreaking description of the Apollo Belvedere while he was staying at the Palazzo Zuccari in 1755, and in 1786 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe paid a visit to the antiquarian and »art consultant« Johann Friedrich Reiffenstein who lived in the palazzo from 1767 until his death in 1793. In the nineteenth century Palazzo Zuccari was the residence of Jakob Salomon Bartholdy, the Prussian Consul-General, who commissioned the Nazarene painters Friedrich Overbeck, Peter Cornelius, Wilhelm Schadow and Philipp Veit with a monumental fresco cycle, which is now at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The genius loci of today’s research institute has been shaped by the history of the city and the palazzo.
The Spanish architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg drew inspiration for his design of the new library tract from the famous horti Lucullani, the splendid terraced gardens surrounding the villa of the Roman general and politician Lucullus that once graced the site of Palazzo Zuccari and surroundings. The reading rooms and book stacks of the new building rise around an open inner courtyard. The reading galleries and book stacks of the new building rise around an open inner courtyard. Poetic and functional in equal measure, Navarro Baldeweg’s new library building was completed towards the end of 2011. Zuccari’s grotesque mascherone, the former garden gate, now grants access to the famous research library, which ever since its foundation has appeared like a paradisiac garden of books to scholars.
History of the Institute
»Bibliotheca Hertziana. Max-Planck-Institut«, Berichte und Mitteilungen 3 (1991).
Julia Laura Rischbieter, Henriette Hertz. Mäzenin und Gründerin der Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rom, Stuttgart 2004.
Denkorte. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft und Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft. Brüche und Kontinuitäten 1911–2011, ed. by Peter Gruss and Reinhard Rürup, with the collaboration of Susanne Kiewitz, Dresden 2010.
100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte. Die Geschichte des Instituts 1913–2013, ed. by Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, with the collaboration of Marieke von Bernstorff, Munich 2013.