Bilderreihe Hertziana

The Bilderreihe for Warburg’s lecture at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome 1929







Towards the end of his life, Warburg spent half a year in Rome, accompanied by his academic assistant Gertrud Bing and personal assistant Franz Alber.







It was in the preparation of a lecture at the Bibliotheca Hertziana that Warburg assembled one of his last Bilderreihen. The lecture on 19 January 1929 was titled “Roman Antiquity in the Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio”, it was well attended and highly influential. These documnents trace and illustrate some of the preparatory stages of the display: from the draft sketches via an emergency photo order from Hamburg, to the photographed panel. The latter re-appears in the image, taken in April 1929, of Warburg and his two assistants in his Roman hotel-suite.












 The letters ‘C’ and ‘N’ that appear on the sketch and the photographic reproduction of the panel relate to different versions Warburg had developed consecutively, the number 1 in the photograph indicates that this was the first panel in the (final) version N.

















For the display of more than 300 images, Warburg received large numbers of reproductions from Hamburg, many made specifically for the occasion. Nine days before the lecture, on 11 January, Bing sends a telegram to Hamburg ordering yet more images. She acknowledges the enormous effort undertaken on both sides: “it is bad at your end; here it is worse”.