The photograph collection effectively exemplifies the many functions covered by the Accademia from the mid-nineteenth century up until the years of the Gentile Reform: teaching and safeguarding, restoration and urban development, promotion and the art market.
The bequeathal of Francesco Hayez, his Luigi Sacchi’s salted papers, the first to use photographs for teaching, reproducing Italian monuments of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is amongst the most significant donations.The importance of photography for teaching purposes is affirmed in particular by Camillo Boito, the Accademia’s Professor of Architecture, who was responsible for the acquisition of about two hundred positives, including the vast series dedicated to the cathedrals of Puglia created by Romualdo Moscioni. The album L’Arte in Italia is attributable to the critical work of Giuseppe Mongeri, the former administrator of the Accademia in the 1850’s, and History of Art Professor since 1878.The thirteen volumes of his collection, received by testamentary bequest in 1891, form an extraordinary record of the origins of the history of art in Italy, before attaining its university subject status with Adolfo Venturi.
This cluster is enhanced by the archive of Gustav Frizzoni (also containing material attributable to Giovanni Morelli) donated by the art historian in 1919, comprising approximately 5,500 positives- mainly reproductions of Renaissance works of art - essential for enhancing expertise not only of Lombard collecting.The last significant record is given by the assortment of albums “Il Bel Paese” probably prepared by the administrator Giulio Carotti (1902-1917). The triumph of illustrated books and the irremediable loss of functions of the Accademia would have seriously threatened the flow of photographic material, which currently amounts to 28,000 positives.