Postcards & Photographs #1

The early years of the BSR were dominated by two great figures. The contribution of Thomas Ashby, the BSR’s third Director, to the study of photography and topography has been well documented – see Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar Janet Wade’s post about her research following in the footsteps of Thomas Ashby on the via Flaminia, and my own recent blog on the many faces of Ashby.

However, the collections built up by his contemporaneous Assistant Director, Eugénie Strong, remain largely unexplored.

Three cupboards in the Photographic Archive hold the Eugénie Strong Collection. When you turn the key to open these cupboards you are suddenly grabbed by her personality which is reflected by the kind of material – photographs and postcards – she was to collect and assemble throughout her life.

Most of the photographs are testimony to her interest in Art History, ranging from Roman and Greek sculpture to medieval, Renaissance and Baroque painting. The photographic collection, bequeathed to the BSR after her death, includes many examples of nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs (all in perfect condition) taken by notable European photographers and needs careful examination before being re-arranged and made available for consultation and research.

The same applies to her impressive collection of European postcards, mainly relating to Italy and many with written comments on the back. Some of these are loose and arranged by country or continents (Africa, Asia), while the rest is neatly organised into nineteen albums.

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Eugénie Strong in her role as BSR Librarian in the Main Reading Room

Eugénie Strong (1860-1943, née Sellers) had long been regarded as one of the most brilliant academics in the field of Roman sculpture, even before taking on the post of BSR Assistant Director and Librarian in 1909. Former Librarian at Chatsworth and Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge, she worked closely with Thomas Ashby when he was BSR Director from 1906 to 1925.

The astonishing number of images they gathered – Ashby taking photographs himself, with Strong collecting them from various sources – shows a keen interest in the value of visual culture at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their intention was not limited to pursuing their own research, but was concerned with developing a reference collection for the benefit of current and future BSR award-holders.

In addition to her image collection, there is also correspondence with Evelyn Shaw, BSR Honorary General Secretary, and various members of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters (FAHL) in the course of her administration of the institution alongside Ashby. Remarkable was her role in coordinating the move of the BSR from Palazzo Odescalchi to the new building in Valle Giulia in 1916, while Ashby was engaged on the Italian front driving the British Red Cross ambulance. Not to mention all the responsibilities involved in the running of a Library!

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The BSR façade during the building works (started in 1912 and completed in 1916)

It is no surprise therefore that she played an important role in supporting and encouraging all BSR award-holders, both in the Humanities and in the Fine Arts. The more we read about her through our past records, the more intelligible the picture of a resilient personality that made the pair with Ashby and contributed so much to raising and consolidating the BSR’s profile, until they both left in 1925.

 

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Eugénie Strong in the centre of the picture surrounded by BSR scholars
Back row: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Eugénie Strong, Colin Gill (Rome Scholar in Painting), Mrs Hardiman, Alfred Hardiman (Rome Scholar in Sculpture), Unknown
Middle row: Miss Jamison, Miss Makin, Winifred Knights (Rome Scholar in Painting)
Front row: F.O. Lawrence (Rome Scholar in Architecture), Job Nixon (Rome Scholar in Engraving), Unknown

 

This year’s Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellow Renée Tobe has been delving into some of these Archive collections from the BSR’s early years, and in the next blog post she will reveal some of the treasures she has found in our collections.

 

Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist)

Images courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archives

Discovering the future of the past at the Vatican Library

In the world of digital humanities, attracting ‘buy-in’ and investment for digitization projects can be a challenge of David and Goliath proportions. Small libraries and archives often struggle to find their way in building consensus and interest around their unique collections. This was one of the key themes of last week’s conference Digitization and libraries: the future of the past organised by the Bodleian Libraries (Oxford) and the Vatican Library.

With the superb chairing of Richard Ovenden (Bodley’s Librarian), some notable speakers explored various methods of scholarly apprenticeship and practice (Anthony Grafton (Princeton) and Timothy Janz (Vatican Library)), the so-called ‘archaeology of readers’, the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project (Paola Manoni, Coordinator of IT services at the Vatican Library), and the use of IIIF protocol. 

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Emma Stanford (Bodleian Libraries Digital Curator) gave an insight into the use of social media showing how much can be done to increase access to, and engagement with, Library collections across wider audiences, unlocking the potential of so-called ‘citizen science’.

Since 2000, the BSR has been working hard to build up its own digital collections to meet the standards that are so important for Libraries and Archives and their future – the future of the pastKristian Jensen’s (BSR FAHL member, and Head of Collections and Curation at the British Library) paper on digital projects with BNCF (Paris) – funded by the Polonsky Foundation – discussed some of the conflicts threatening textual cultural heritage.

Interoperability is the term used to describe the building of metadata in such a way that they can be shared with and understood by other systems. This was the key principle on which our Digital Collections website was designed, adopting descriptive, administrative and technical metadata to bring together meaningful information both on analogue objects and their digital counterparts.

Jill Cousins (Director and CEO of the Hunt Museum, Limerick) explained the importance of metadata, with quality being preferable to quantity in terms of making content visible and accessible.jill c

Slide from Jill Cousins’ presentation

As we have built up our digital collections over the years here at the BSR, we have learned that enriching our records with appropriate metadata based on thesauri and controlled vocabularies is essential. We have not been mean in this respect!

Cousins also discussed open access and open content. The latter requires a thorough analysis of rights statements be applied to collections, which can then be labelled using the appropriate Creative Commons licence. Still, fear prevents many institutions from releasing their digital content without restrictions.

Collaborative projects based on shared metadata can also help rebuild collections of books scattered across Europe, as Cristina Dondi (Oakeshott Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities at Lincoln College, Oxford, and Secretary of the CERL) proposed in presenting her five-year ERC-funded project 15cBOOKTRADE. Collaboration is key to Digital Humanities projects and should also be promoted between researchers in both the humanities and the sciences.

It was more than encouraging to know that we have been on the right path since taking up the challenge of transforming our resources into digital assets, now a fundamental part of our day-to-day work. We may be small but we think big!

 

Alessandra Giovenco (Archivist)

Beatrice Gelosia (BSR Deputy Librarian)

BSR Library Special Collections. Gift from Mark Getty, BSR Chair of Council.

Professor David McKitterick introduces a selection of the latest addition to the BSR Library’s Special Collections.

Quite apart from its modern collections, the BSR owns a remarkable collection of early printed books, many of them from the library of Thomas Ashby, to which other benefactors have given since. But the BSR has not been able to add to these for a long time. When in February the collection of books about Rome assembled by Sergio Rossetti came onto the market in Milan, there was an unprecedented opportunity to enrich the library.

Rossetti’s four-volume bibliography of Rome was published in 2000-4, and he built up his own remarkable collection alongside. Thanks to the imagination and prompt generosity of Mark Getty, the BSR was able to acquire over a hundred volumes at the auction, dating from the early sixteenth century to the late nineteenth.

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Mark Getty with Director Stephen Milner and Librarian Valerie Scott

Some were magnificent illustrated books, such as Pietro Castelli’s volume of engravings of rare plants in the Farnese gardens (1625), or Pietro Ferrerio and Giovani Battista Falda’s engravings of palazzi (c.1660) many of which have now disappeared, while the great etchings in the folio Rovine del castello dell’Acqua Giulia (1761) show Piranesi’s interests as simultaneously antiquary, architect and hydraulic engineer.

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Engraving from Pietro Ferrerio, Palazzi di Roma di più celebri architetti, Roma [1655-70]

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Engraving from Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Le rovine del castello dell’Acqua Giulia situato in Roma presso S. Eusebio…..…, Rome 1761

The copy of Giacomo Lauro’s collection of views Antiquae urbis splendor (1637) is in an impressive gilt binding with the arms of Pope Urban VIII. A group of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century books about the Tiber focusses , not surprisingly, on the periodic floods. An illustrated volume by Nicolai Alemanni on the Lateran palace (1637) focusses on Pope Leo III’s grand new ninth-century dining room, or triclinium, decorated with mosaics and only some of which survives.

At the core of this wonderful accession is a large group of guidebooks, in Latin, Italian, French and English, to be added to the already notable collection of these already on the shelves in the BSR. While such books are obviously reflections of local identity and are invaluable for anyone trying to unravel the history of ownership of works of art, they are also some of the closest ways we can come to seeing the world through the eyes of earlier centuries.

Just to read the ever more detailed guides, meeting the needs of seventeenth-century tourists such as John Evelyn or John Milton, or a host of eighteenth-century visitors, is not only to begin to see with their eyes, but also to wonder at the energies of people who (if they followed some guidebooks’ instructions) were expected to see Rome sometimes in as little as three days: the Vatican and Trastevere could easily be dealt with in just one. But these guidebooks tell us more.

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Frontispiece from Pompilio Totti, Ritratto di Roma antica……….., Roma 1645

Pompilio Totti, the much-printed author of the best of the seventeenth-century guides, showed how Rome could be divided into antica and moderna.  By the time we come to read his even more popular successor, the archaeologist Antonio Nibby (first published shortly after the Napoleonic wars and widely available in Italian and French) there are new concerns, arising from the ever-more revealing excavations. How should ruins be preserved, and how should they be shown off? These remain no less topical questions today.

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Frontispiece from Pompilio Totti, Ritratto di Roma moderna……….., Roma 1645

Of the later books, one further might be selected among these prizes. Matthew Dubourg’s  Views of the remains of ancient buildings in Rome and its vicinity  (London, 1820) has become rare because so many copies have been broken up for the sake of the lovely hand-coloured illustrations. But the text is worth reading as well, influenced by the fashion for gothic novels and written by a person informed by the dramatic paintings of Salvator Rosa. This is the Rome of the romantics, published just a few months before Keats died. Not surprisingly, Byron is quoted on the Colosseum: ‘a noble wreck, in ruinous perfection’. All these books invite further study, and all are being added to the union catalogue URBiS (www.urbis-libnet.org).

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From Matthew Dubourg, Views of the remains of ancient buildings in Rome and its vicinity…………, London 1820

Meanwhile, a selection is currently on display at the Entrance Hall of the BSR.

Text by David McKitterick, Emeritus Honorary Professor of Historical Bibliography, Trinity College, Cambridge.

 

David visited the BSR and gave a fascinating talk to staff, residents and award-holders about the new arrivals.

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The research potential of our Special Collections has been enhanced by this remarkable gift and our aim now is to seek funding for specific BSR Library awards to generate more opportunities for research projects based on our rich collections.

Text by Valerie Scott, Librarian

Photos by Antonio Palmieri

Ashby Adventures 2018

Last week we hosted our Ashby Patrons visit to Rome. This is always a very special weekend in the BSR’s calendar when we welcome our Ashby Patrons to the BSR for an action-packed few days of adventures both inside and outside the city. This year was no exception with a full and expertly tailored programme of excursions!

Always an important part of the weekend, is the opportunity for the Patrons to speak with resident award-holders and to visit the studios of artists resident at the BSR. This year was no different. On arrival the group were treated to a visual feast (indeed, a sneak preview of what is to come in next month’s June Mostra) by three of our artists in residence – Murat Urlali (National Art School, Sydney, Resident), John Robertson (Abbey Scholar in Painting) and Oona Grimes (The Bridget Riley Fellow). After visiting the studios the group joined BSR residents and staff for dinner.

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Murat Urlali (National Art School, Sydney, Resident) in his studio

The first full day began with a visit to the Venerable English College, the Catholic seminary in Rome which trains priests from England and Wales.

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After a hearty welcome from Ryan Service, a Seminarian from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the group had the privilege of being led around the college, current exhibition and the archives, by Archive Coordinator and BSR Research Fellow Professor Maurice Whitehead. This visit was also an opportunity to explain to the group the British School at Rome’s ambition to work in collaboration with Venerable English College to open access to their archives, facilitating the opportunity to bring UK scholars to Rome to study them.

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Sustained by a fine lunch, the group progressed to the second visit of the day, a guided tour of Palazzo Pamphilj (situated within Piazza Navona and now home to the Brazilian Embassy in Italy) led by Assistant Director Tom True.

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Within the Ashby group we were lucky to have BSR Former Chair of council Timothy Llewellyn, expert on the frescoed ceiling of Pietro da Cortona, who explained the story of Aeneas depicted on the ceiling above. We were then treated to a spectacular view from the balcony to the piazza below.

After a day of visual and gastronomic treats, those who had the strength, stomach and courage, rounded off the day with a gelato at Giolitti!

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Relaxed and refreshed, the second day saw the Ashby group venture out from Rome to Lake Bracciano, to enjoy a guided tour of Castello Odescalchi bathed in sunshine.

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After the tour the group enjoyed a delicious feast comprised of locally sourced ingredients at an agriturismo in Trevignano. Yet, this was not the end of the days programme, upon arrival back to the BSR, Marco Iuliano (member of the BSR Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters) gave a presentation entitled ‘Notes on the Cartography of Rome’, with particular reference to special holdings from our Library, including a map by Giovani Battista Cingolani della Pergola (1704), which depicts Lake Bracciano.

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The advent of the final day revealed that some of the best treasures had been saved until last. Valerie Scott (Librarian and Deputy Director) presented the Library’s latest addition, a gift of rare books presented to the BSR earlier this year by Chair of Council Mark Getty.

To round off the trip, Director Stephen Milner brought the Ashby’s up-to-date with his vision of the future for the BSR, prompting a lively discussion. As per tradition, the weekend concluded with brunch at Caffè delle Arti with reflections on the activities and success of the weekend.

It was a delight to host the Ashby Patrons, and was a chance to say thank you for their continued support and guidance, which is wholeheartedly appreciated and valued by the whole BSR community.

Roll on next year…!

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Blog and photographs by Alice Marsh (Events and Communications Assistant) 

 

Walking the via Flaminia: following in the footsteps of Thomas Ashby and his companions

Janet WadeJanet Wade is the current Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar, resident at the BSR from January to June 2018. Janet’s research project is titled Walking the via Flaminia: following in the footsteps of Thomas Ashby and his companions. As part of this project, Janet plans to traverse the entire length of the via Flaminia on foot (and bicycle), along with previous Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar, Nicole Moffatt. Following on from BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco’s blog on the many faces of Ashby, here Janet talks in more detail about her own exploration both of the via Flaminia and of the rich collection of material in Thomas Ashby’s archives at the BSR.

‘In one’s less sternly moral moments one even acquires the feeling that every fine day spent indoors, with the Campagna so close, is in a sense wasted.’

Thomas Ashby, The Roman Campagna in Classical Times (London, 1927), 18.

I couldn’t help but recall Thomas Ashby’s words as I wandered along the perimeter of Augustus and Livia’s estate in Prima Porta on a warm, sunny day in April. I was tracing the line of the ancient via Flaminia through Prima Porta, starting from the remains of an arch and wall that originally flanked the road. Both ruins are now incorporated into the walls of a medieval church and a restaurant on either side of the modern Via della Villa di Livia. A stroll up the hill took me to the extensive ruins of Livia’s Villa, with its commanding views of the surrounding countryside, the via Flaminia and Tiberina. At the Villa, high above the traffic with a light breeze rustling the trees and birds chirping, it was easy to imagine the tranquility and seduction of the Roman Campagna of Ashby’s day. I had to remind myself of a less serene walk from the Aurelian walls to Prima Porta that my partner Matt and I did two months earlier, attempting to stick as close to the ancient line of the via Flaminia as possible. We darted across major arterial roads on several occasions, hugged the rock wall of the cliffs of Saxa Rubra to keep at least half a metre between us and the oncoming traffic, and searched in vain for a way to get a glimpse of a piece of the via Flaminia antica that we knew was hiding behind a high fence near Due Ponti station. Ashby’s Roman Campagna was not so easy to visualise that day! It has survived–as too has the via Flaminia–but not in the same form as it existed either in antiquity or the early twentieth century.

4th century arch in the walls of the Church of Saints Urbano and Lorenzo at Prima Porta

4th century arch in the walls of the Church of Saints Urbano and Lorenzo at Prima Porta (Photos by Thomas Ashby (courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive) and Janet Wade).

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The Via Flaminia Antica running through the middle of a car sales yard on the way to Prima Porta (Photo by Janet Wade).

Ashby’s exploratory tours of the countryside extended along Italy’s ancient roads beyond the borders of the Roman Campagna. Much of Ashby’s research on the Roman road system was done when he was at the BSR, firstly as a student and then as Director from 1906 to 1925. A century on, Ashby’s publications on the Roman roads of Italy are still largely definitive. His research in the library was meticulous; Ashby consulted whatever books, maps and prints he could get his hands on. Yet, ultimately, it was Ashby’s personal observation of the roads and their surrounding sites that enabled him to map and record the Roman road network so effectively. He tried to visit every inch of a road–or encouraged award-holders at the School to do so–before publishing on them. Ashby knew Italy’s ancient roads so well because he walked or cycled them. His series of articles on the Roman roads are thorough and detailed accounts, but they don’t always reveal the depth of the man’s passion. The collection of Ashby’s notes, correspondence and photographs in the BSR Archives tells us so much more.

Scribbled on the back of envelopes and previous correspondence (in fact, any paper that Ashby could find) are copious notes taken from the works of previous scholars. There are untidy drawings of sites, like Otricoli on the via Flaminia, which Ashby copied from early modern maps and excavation reports to take with him into the field. Military maps with scrawled annotations in the margins show obvious signs of outdoor use. Even more numerous are the scribbled notes from Ashby’s own exploratory tours; hastily drawn maps, personal observations, and measurements. And, of course, there are his photographs. Not always framed or focused perfectly, these photos still provide a wonderful record of the state of the roads and their surrounds in the early 20th century. Ashby’s photos and letters reveal both the pleasure he derived from hiking along ancient routes and the fruitfulness of missions often undertaken in the company of BSR award-holders. Letters sent to the Honorary General Secretary in London, Evelyn Shaw, recount excellent tramps up the Tiber valley, productive and enjoyable walking tours of ancient roads, and Ashby’s belief in the importance of this type of travel for the BSR Director and award-holders. Ashby’s correspondence also highlights the encouragement he gave to BSR scholars to study the ancient Roman road system. Certainly, he could not have mapped, recorded and published as much as he did without them.

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One of the IGM (Istituto Geografico Militare) maps used by Thomas Ashby when he explored a section of the via Flaminia, including the town of Otricoli (Courtesy of the BSR Special Collections/Photo by Nicole Moffatt).

Map of the site of Otricoli copied by Ashby from Giuseppe Antonio Guattani’s Monumenti Antichi inediti ovvero Notizie sulle Antichita’ e Belle Arti di Roma, vol. 1 (Rome, 1784)..jpg

Map of the site of Otricoli copied by Ashby from Giuseppe Antonio Guattani’s Monumenti Antichi inediti ovvero Notizie sulle Antichita’ e Belle Arti di Roma, vol. 1 (Rome, 1784). (Courtesy of the BSR Special Collections/Photo by Janet Wade).

My interest in the archives was initially focused on the via Flaminia and the work that Ashby and BSR award-holder, R.A.L. Fell, did together on the road in 1920-21. But the via Flaminia has emerged as a perfect example of Ashby’s wider methodology and his collaboration with others. Ashby’s via Flaminia project straddled the pre and post WWI years of the BSR’s history. The archive material reveals a changing attitude to life and work at the BSR in the early 1920s­, when research on the road was being finalised. Student files held in the archives also reveal the intensely collaborative environment at the BSR amongst artists, architects and archaeologists in this same period. The number of current and previous scholars and friends of the BSR who were involved in Ashby’s publication on the via Flaminia exemplifies this. Indeed, the fascinating and talented group of scholars at the BSR in the early 1920’s deserves to be treated as a separate topic entirely (one that I hope to pursue in the near future).

Two of Ashby_s companions on the via Flaminia near Civita Castellana. Photo by Thomas Ashby.

Two of Ashby’s companions on the via Flaminia near Civita Castellana. It is likely that these men are Stephen Rowland-Pierce and Edward William Armstrong, the two architects who accompanied Ashby to this section of the via Flaminia to survey the valley of the river Treia (Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive/Photo by Thomas Ashby).

Arnold J. Toynbee in Cesi as part of a tour of the via Flaminia and its surrounds in 1911-12. Ashby and Toynbee_s bikes are pictured in the background. Photo by Thomas Ashby.

Arnold J. Toynbee in Cesi as part of a tour of the via Flaminia and its surrounds in 1911-12. Ashby and Toynbee’s bikes are pictured in the background (Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive/Photo by Thomas Ashby).

But let’s return to Thomas Ashby. He is a central figure in the history of Italy’s Roman roads and its changing landscape. J.B. Ward-Perkins, in his introduction to the 1970 edition of Ashby’s The Roman Campagna in Classical Times asked whether even then, almost fifty years on, we had ‘lost something of the capacity for direct personal observation which was at the root of all that Ashby did’. I think we have. Yet there is still something to be said for exploring roads and sites on foot as Ashby did; following a line of road or a faint track to see where it might lead. When used alongside modern scholarship and technology, there is no better way to investigate how an ancient road or monument has survived in its new, modern landscape. And this is exactly what Nicole Moffatt and I intend to do. With the aid of Ashby’s notes, correspondence and photographs, and with Ashby and Fell’s 1921 article as our guide, we will walk the via Flaminia from Rome to Rimini, documenting its new meaning and place in the 21st century.

The Arch of Augustus at the end of the via Flaminia in Rimini

The Arch of Augustus at the end of the via Flaminia in Rimini (Photos by Thomas Ashby (courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive) and Janet Wade).

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Nicole and Janet walking along the via Flaminia at Carsulae, near San Gemini (Photo by Jeff Moffatt).

Janet Wade (BSR Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar 2017-18)

Profile photo of Janet by Antonio Palmieri. 

The many faces of Ashby

The first time I came across Thomas Ashby – first student of the BSR and director from 1906 to 1925 – was nearly 20 years ago. I was a young archivist with little knowledge and experience of photographic collections and the power of their imagery.

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The young Ashby in 1901-3 with his peculiar excursion uniform in a photo taken by George Joseph Pfeiffer at Carsioli. Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive.

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A portrait of a young Ashby. Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive.

Even after such a long time, I cannot claim to know everything about this fascinating personality. Many aspects of his public and private life are still to be unveiled through his incredible anthology of images, taken since he was a young student. His life can be read chronologically across over 8,000 photographs from eighteen albums, accompanied by just as many negatives, the whole set stored in the BSR Photographic Archive and cherished by all the Library and Archive staff.

Ashby was a man who travelled extensively and was driven by his curiosity. Not only was he one of the finest topographers of all time but also an avid bibliophile – his collection of rare books is one of the jewels of the BSR crown – and anthropologist, showing much interest in Italian festivals and everyday life.

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On the way to Cavamonte along the ancient Roman road Via Prenestina. Ashby is the one walking. Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive.

At the end of 2017, three events took place showcasing Ashby’s wide-ranging interests, all of which are connected by his passion for photography:

Ashby the archaeologist and topographer, visited Segni in three distinct trips (1895, 1898 and 1912), and it is these trips that prompted the publication of a catalogue on the use of the camera oscura and photography. The presentation of the catalogue Dalla camera oscura alla prima fotografia. Architetti e archeologi a Segni da Dodwell a Ashby e Mackey, launched on the occasion of the photographic exhibition held in Segni at the beginning of October, was followed by a conference at the Archaeological German Institute on the 21 October.

Ashby the anthropologist’s account of a procession taking place in the Abbey of San Giovanni in Argentella in June 1921 (Palombara Sabina), drew the attention of a local cultural association based in Palombara Sabina. A two-day conference on the historic and architectural importance of this ecclesiastical building was organised and the second day of the conference was hosted in the outstanding setting of the Abbey.

 

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Some photographs from the Thomas Ashby and Bulwer collectinos on display in the Abbey of San Giovanni in Argentella (Palombara Sabina). Courtesy of Alessandra Giovenco.

Ashby the driver of the First Ambulance Unit on the Italian front (1915-18) – generously donated to the Italian government by the British Red Cross – led to an exhibition supported by the British Embassy in 2015 and, last November, to a beautiful publication with a selection of images of depicting the suffering and destruction of WWI. A copy of this publication was donated to every family of the small community of San Giovanni al Natisone that backed the initiative.

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There are many more stories in this marvellous photographic collection still waiting for a dialogue to begin. Inspiring and inspired, Ashby will never fail to amaze me!

 

Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist)

 



Please get in touch with Alessandra if you are interested in consulting our Photographic Archive.

In the footsteps of Ashby

On Saturday 21 October 2017 the Museo Archeologico Comune di Segni hosted the inauguration of an exhibition of a series of drawings by Edward Dodwell (from Sir John Soane’s Museum) and photographs from the BSR Archives taken by Thomas Ashby and Father Peter Paul Mackey.

In the late 19th century Father Peter Paul Mackey visited the small town of Segni, 50km south of Rome and a day’s walk from Palestrina where he was probably based for his weekend photographic excursions. He was drawn to the city by its enormous ‘Cyclopic’ walls hewn from the limestone mountain and the well preserved Roman temple of Juno Moneta.

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Segni, postern under citadel (with figure). Photo courtesy of the BSR Archives, Peter Paul Mackey Collection.

A few years later, undoubtedly inspired by one of Mackey’s lectures at the British and American Archaeological Society of Rome, Thomas Ashby, director of the BSR between 1906 and 1925, also visited the town to photograph its magnificent walls and gateways.

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Segni, city wall and Porta dello Steccato. Photo courtesy of the BSR Archives, Thomas Ashby Collection.

In 2012 the BSR began the Segni Project together with the town archaeological museum which over the past five years has conducted a series of excavations as well as hosted conferences, workshops, exhibitions and the ongoing project for the recovery of a monumental nymphaeum.

It is therefore with great pleasure that the BSR is supporting an exhibition of Mackey’s and Ashby’s photographs on display at the Museo Archeologico di Segni.

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Photographs from the BSR Archives on display at the exhibition (Photos: Stephen Kay)

Inaugurated on the occasion of the annual ‘Sagra del Marrone’, the evening saw a large number of visitors to the museum following a presentation of the accompanying catalogue by Dott. Enrico Benelli (CNR-ISMA). It was also an opportunity for the new director Professor Stephen Milner and his family to visit one of the sites of ongoing BSR archaeological research. The success of the exhibition owes much to the work of the BSR’s archivist Alessandra Giovenco and that of the librarians, so it was wonderful that BSR Librarian Valerie Scott and Beatrice Gelosia were also present for the occasion.

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Stephen Milner gives an introductory presentation (Photo: Stephen Kay)

The exhibition at the Museo Archeologico di Segni will continue through until the end of the year. For more details see www.museosegni.it The BSR is grateful for the continued support of the Comune di Segni and its mayor Prof.ssa Maria Assunta Bocardelli, as well as the director of the Museo Archeologico di Segni Dott.ssa Federica Colaiacomo and the previous museum director and BSR Research Fellow Dott. Francesco Maria Cifarelli. The project is extremely grateful to Mr and Mrs Denny Custer who have generously supported the work of the BSR Archaeological Officer over the past years and made possible the scanning and reproduction of the photographs of Segni by Thomas Ashby.

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Team BSR enjoying the ‘Sagra del Marrone’ (Photo: Stephen Milner)

Stephen Kay (Archaeological Officer)

An interview with our Archive interns

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Cristina Iannaccone and Simona Giordano at the BSR

The 2016-17 academic year has seen an incredible fervor of activity in the BSR Archives, ranging from hosting students from Sapienza – Università di Roma to carrying out physical and intellectual work on some important sections of the BSR Administrative Archive. We are delighted to have formalised a collaboration with Sapienza – Università di Roma, who are sending us enthusiastic students to work at the BSR for a period as interns. We have also supported the work of a student from Università Cà Foscari in Venice, thanks to the invaluable input of Professor Paul G. Weston, newly-appointed member of our Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters. Archivists require both technical and historical knowledge and I know that the BSR is the right place for these skills to be put into practice!

Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist)

We interviewed two recent Archive interns, Cristina and Simona, to find out what they have been up to.

Cristina Iannaccone

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Where and what are you currently studying?

I am studying for my MA in History and Library/Archive Management at the Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia in collaboration with the Università di Padova. The course is designed for those who wish to become archivists and librarians, developing specialist skills in the treatment of material conserved in archives and libraries (whether they be historical or contemporary, public or private).

Sono iscritta al corso di Laurea magistrale in Storia e gestione del patrimonio archivistico e bibliografico presso l’Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, attivato in convenzione con l’Università di Padova. Esso forma archivisti e bibliotecari fornendo competenze specialistiche nella trattazione dei materiali conservati presso archivi e biblioteche, siano essi storici o contemporanei, pubblici o privati.

What are you working on at the BSR?

As part of my university training I started an internship at the BSR Archive in March 2017. I have worked on the reconditioning and inventorying of administrative records pertaining to a particular set of awards, ‘Grants in Aid of Research’. This work required me to consult the Reports of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters.

Nel mese di marzo 2017 ho intrapreso il tirocinio curriculare presso l’Archivio dell’Accademia britannica. Ho portato avanti un lavoro di ricondizionamento e inventariazione di scatole contenenti fascicoli dell’archivio amministrativo, relativi ad una delle Borse di studio assegnate ai ricercatori dalla British School at Rome: i Grants in Aid of Research. Per le informazioni necessarie allo svolgimento del lavoro sono stati consultati i Reports della Faculty of Archeology, History and Letters.

What have you learnt from your experience at the BSR?

I believe that professional experience is essential for anyone wanting to become an archivist or librarian. My internship at the BSR was extremely useful and formative; I learnt so much through this hands-on experience which cannot be gained through university study alone. Furthermore, working with the Library and Archive staff at the BSR has shown me the importance of carrying out your work with passion and tenacity.

Ritengo che per la formazione di archivisti e bibliotecari un periodo di esperienza professionale guidata sia imprescindibile. Il mio tirocinio presso la BSR è stato proficuo e altamente formativo; ho imparato tanto attraverso un approccio pratico di cui difettavano in parte i miei studi universitari. Inoltre, ho appreso dai professionisti che hanno guidato la mia esperienza l’importanza di portare avanti il proprio lavoro con passione e tenacia.

What are your plans for the future?

This internship has affirmed my desire to work in an environment like the BSR that allows me to combine the roles of archivist and researcher. Having said this, I am not dismissing the possibility of carrying out further training in the field of archive management, for example through further study in the digital sector.

Il tirocinio svolto ha confermato ulteriormente la mia volontà di lavorare in un ambiente che, come la BSR, permette di stabilire un rapporto di interazione diretta tra archivista e ricercatore. Non intendo tuttavia tralasciare la possibilità di continuare la mia formazione in ambito archivistico, partecipando a Corsi di specializzazione o Master inerenti anche al settore della digitalizzazione.

 

Simona Giordano

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Where and what are you currently studying?

I am currently in my second and final year of my MA in Archival and Library Science (Department of Humanities) at Sapienza – Università di Roma.

Sono attualmente iscritta al secondo ed ultimo anno del corso di Laurea Magistrale in Archivistica e Biblioteconomia (Dipartimento di Lettere) presso l’Università ‘La Sapienza’, a Roma. 

What are you working on at the BSR?

I am working on the ‘Visual Art’ files located in the ‘Awards and Funding Bodies’ section of the BSR Administrative Archive. More specifically I am looking at the sub-series that deals with the various ‘Rome Scholarship’ awards in Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving, and at the ‘Abbey Major Scholarship in Painting’: my job has been to rearrange and label the files and to edit the inventory of administrative documents relating to former BSR award-holders.

Mi sto occupando della serie ‘Visual Art’ del fondo ‘Awards and Funding Bodies’, appartenente all’Archivio Amministrativo della BSR. In particolare sto lavorando alle sottoserie relative alle borse di studio ‘Rome Scholarship’ in ‘Pittura’, ‘Scultura’ e ‘Incisione’ e alle borse di studio in ‘Pittura’ del premio denominato ‘Abbey Major Scholarship in Painting’: il mio intervento consiste nelle operazioni di ordinamento e etichettatura di fascicoli e nella redazione di un inventario dei documenti  amministrativi degli ex borsisti della BSR.

What have you learnt from your experience at the BSR?

As a student of Archival Science, this experience at the BSR is a great opportunity for me to put what I have learned in my university course into practice in a stimulating work environment. To be able to handle documents and files and evaluate them in a real-life context has helped me to understand how an archive really functions, and to appreciate the difficulties that can arise when managing an archive like the BSR’s that houses such a vast array of materials.

Come studentessa di archivistica l’esperienza presso la BSR è un’importante opportunità per mettere in pratica gli insegnamenti del mio corso di laurea in un ambiente di lavoro stimolante e sereno. Toccare con mano carte, documenti e fascicoli, contribuendo a valorizzarli: attività utili a capire il funzionamento di un archivio e ad affrontarne le problematiche, specialmente all’interno di un ente come la BSR, dalla struttura articolata e dotato di un considerevole patrimonio documentaristico.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to become an archivist! Before my MA in Archival Science. I obtained a BA in Cultural and Linguistics Mediation: not once have I regretted this change of direction, and every day my passion for archives is growing. All too often, the world of archives remains obscure, and there is a danger of it not being appreciated as it should. I hope that in the not too distant future society will learn to pay more attention to its past.

Mi piacerebbe diventare archivista! Prima di iscrivermi al corso di Laurea in Archivistica e Biblioteconomia ho conseguito la laurea triennale in Mediazione Culturale e Linguistica: aver cambiato oggetto di studio non solo non mi ha fatto pentire della mia scelta, ma anzi mi ha indirizzato verso quella che con il tempo sta diventando una grande passione. Spesso il mondo degli archivi è sconosciuto ai più, e altrettanto spesso rischia di non essere valorizzato come dovrebbe: spero in un futuro non troppo lontano di poter far parte di una società più attenta al suo passato. 


Text by Cristina Iannaccone and Simona Giordano. Translation by Natalie Arrowsmith. Photos by Alice Marsh.

BSR summer summary

As the summer draws to a close, we reflect on the hard work and events that have gone on at the BSR over the summer months, and look forward to the advent of a new academic year ahead.

An exciting new addition to our facilities inaugurated the summer at the BSR – we were delighted to add a new fully-facilitated flat to our residence. As a result, we were able to host three more researchers over the course of the summer. The creation of the new flat coincides with the re-organisation of our office space over the past few months: our finance, communications and administration have recently been relocated in spacious new offices, and we now have new lab facilities for our archaeologists.

A huge thank you and congratulations to our brilliant Library team, who worked tirelessly over the summer on the annual update of the Library collection. This task saw some 100,000 volumes accounted for, and our ever-growing collection was reordered, ready for the return of our Library members in September.

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The super Library team hard at work on the annual summer update

Each summer, the BSR welcomes back into its fold former Fine Arts award-holders to make use of the studio space. In addition this year we hosted three artists on the Mead Rome PhD Studio Residency (in collaboration with University of the Arts London) as well as one David & Mary Forshaw Newcastle Residency. Many of the artists opened up their studios to other residents and staff to take a peak at their work in progress.

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The first half of September saw another successful Summer School. Each year, a group of undergraduate students studying Ancient History, Archaeology and Classics join us for an intensive two-week course led by Cary Fellow Robert Coates-Stephens, and Ed Bispham (Rome Scholar Humanities 1994–5). Each day’s visits took on a different theme, preceded by an introductory lecture at the BSR, and covering various elements of the city and its surroundings. The students left Rome with a comprehensive understanding of the city under their belts, after a fantastic fortnight – not even a biblical deluge at Tivoli’s Villa Adriana could dampen their spirits! Thanks to the tireless efforts of Robert, Ed and Stefania Peterlini (Permissions Officer), the group gained privileged access to a vast range of Rome’s most fascinating sites, and many commented that the course will continue to inspire them throughout their studies.

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2017 Summer School group with Robert Coates-Stephens and Ed Bispham (photo by Antonio Palmieri)

Meanwhile in Pompeii BSR Archaeology Officer Stephen Kay and his team and colleagues from the Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Doctores y Licenciados en Letras y Ciencias de Valencia y Castellòn, Departamento de Arqueologia and the Museo de Prehistoria e Historia de La Diputación De Valencia completed the final season of excavation at Porta Nola (Pompeii) — you can find out more about the latest discoveries in our previous blog.

The summer concluded with a visit from a group of members of the Attingham Trust. The Trust offers specialised courses on historic houses, their collections and settings, and on the history and contents of English royal palaces. This year their Study Programme came to Rome for the first time and was organised by former award-holder Dr Andrew Moore (Paul Mellon Rome Fellow  2006-7) in association with the BSR. The participants — curators, architects and art collectors — have visited several palazzi and villas in Rome and Naples as part of their ‘Attingham Grand Tour’. We were  thrilled to welcome back to the BSR, as a participant of this study programme, Allison Goudie (Rome Award 2012-13) who since her BSR award has worked in various roles at the National Gallery and the National Trust.

The group were treated to a lecture by BSR Director Christopher Smith, and a tour of the Library and Archives, including some closed access material relating to the Grand Tour.

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The Attingham Study group view rare books in the Library (photo by Antonio Palmieri)

 

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The Attingham Study group (photo by Antonio Palmieri)

The evening concluded with a lively dinner, bringing the BSR dining room back to full capacity after the summer months. This special dinner was also the first in residence for incoming Director Stephen Milner, who formally steps into the position at the beginning of October — benvenuto Stephen! We look forward to the start of the new academic year and the exciting programme of events to come.

Original photographic prints from the BSR Photographic Archive on display at Palazzo Poli in Rome

On 16 May our Library team attended the opening of a photographic exhibition that sees the participation of 30 Italian and foreign institutions in Rome, including many members of the URBiS Library Network Catalogue.

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The list of all the institutions in Rome both Italian and foreign participating in the exhibition

The exhibition shows more than 300 photographs arranged by theme in alphabetical order: Acque, Bellezza, Cronaca, Danni, Esplorazioni, Feste, Giochi, Habitat, Incontri, Lavoro, Mostre, Nudo, Oltremare, Potere, Quotidianità, Radici, Spettacoli, Trasporti, Urbanistica, Viaggi, Zibaldone. This approach, presenting the photographs according to theme rather than chronology, results in a more evocative and inspiring experience for the public and demonstrates the diversity and richness of the photographic collections across the participant institutions.

The title of the initiative stems from the exhibition’s three distinguishing elements:

  • the alphabetical order in which the images are presented (alfabeto)
  • the nature of the objects on display – exclusively photographs (fotografico)
  • the provenance of the collections, all from public and private institutions in Rome (romano)

We are very proud to have participated in the exhibition by contributing some original photographs from our Photographic Archive: five original albumen prints from the John Henry Parker Collection have been selected for the section Acque, Danni, Potere, Urbanistica and Viaggi, as well as two silver gelatin prints from the John Bryan Ward-Perkins series ‘War Damage’ documenting the destruction of the San Lorenzo basilica during World War II.

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The exhibition catalogue showing images documenting the destruction of the basilica of San Lorenzo during World War II

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Attendees at the exhibition opening

The accompanying catalogue includes more than 200 images and a description of each item is provided by the curators of the photographic collections.

We are very grateful to Maria Francesca Bonetti (Istituto Centrale per la Grafica (ICG)) and Clemente Marsicola (Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (ICCD)) for having dedicated their efforts to setting up this highly collaborative project.

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Audience attending the presentation of the exhibition

On a personal note, I would like to express my gratitude to Beatrice Gelosia, Deputy Librarian, for her invaluable help and support throughout the preparation of both the texts published in the catalogue and the photographic material selected for the event.

Do not miss the opportunity to go and visit this outstanding exhibition, on display until the beginning of July:

Venue: Palazzo Poli, Via Poli, 54 (Fontana di Trevi) – Rome

Date: 17 May-2 July 2017

Time: Tuesday-Sunday, 14.00-19.00

Free entrance


Alessandra Giovenco (Archivist)